When we are sick and under the care of a physician we take it for granted that we are receiving the best care possible. When our physician advises us that diagnostic procedures are called for to help in our recovery we generally agree under the assumption that the procedure is safe and in our best interest. Unfortunately recent reports may call those assumptions into question.
As early as October of last year the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an alert regarding CT machines manufactured by General Electric and Toshiba that were used to perform brain perfusion scans in hospitals across the country. A brain perfusion scan is typically done after a patient appears to have suffered from a stroke. A Ct perfusion scan can identify a stroke by viewing the blood flow images and is therefore not the kind of test a patient is likely to refuse. Patients that underwent these scans were already in a vulnerable medical state and the scans were thought to be a valuable diagnostic tool. Reports, however, indicate that the CT machines may have been wrongly calibrated subjecting patients to excessive doses of radiation.
The majority of the patients that appear to have been affected were patients at California hospitals according to reports by the Food and Drug Administration. Almost 300 patients at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and another 37 from Providence Saint Joseph Medical in Burbank were injured by the excessive radiation doses. Another ten incidents are currently being investigated at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in California and cases have been reported at Los Angeles County hospital as well as University of Southern California Medical Center. While California appears to be home to the highest number of incidents, Alabama has also reported another 65 patients that were affected. While Alabama has fewer victims, the Alabama patients appear to have been hit the hardest with as much as 13 times the acceptable levels of radiation. To make matters worse, reports are that technicians may have intentionally used higher levels of radiation in order to make images clearer. Preliminary inquiries also show that the machines may have been set at higher levels for as much as 18 months before detection which leads experts to believe that there may be a significant number of additional victims that have yet to come forward.
Patients that have reported problems after having a CT scan have reported hair loss, skin reddening, headaches, memory loss and confusion. To make matters worse, many of the affected patients are now considered to be at risk for brain damage and cancer.
Officials at Cedars-Sinai theorize that a feature on the machine that can automatically adjust the radiation level according to the patient’s size and body part. Apparently, however, when used with certain machine settings that govern image clarity, the automatic feature did not reduce the dose — it raised it.
If you, or a loved one, are concerned that you may have been affected by excessive radiation from a CT brain perfusion scan, you may have legal options available to you as a result of any damages you have suffered. Please contact California attorney Emery Ledger of Ledger & Associates at 1-800-300-0001 or visit his website at www.ledgerlaw.com for more information.