The New York Times recently profiled a growing problem of medical error, radiation overdoses. Radiation treatments are often used at hospitals to test for strokes in a procedure known as a CT brain profusion scan.
Radiation always contains some risks, but doctors are supposed to protect against exposing patients to harmful levels of radiation that are unnecessary. Recent investigation, however, have uncovered that the true extent of the problem. Many doctors are negligently exposing patients with too much radiation than necessary. A quick investigation discovered, for example, that the well-known and respected Cedars-Sinai hospital had over 269 cases of extra-radiation.
The total number of patients exposed to unnecessary levels of radiation is unclear, but the number continues to rise as more injured patient come forward. Food and Drug Administration officials admit that the total number of patients affected is not known but likely higher than initial estimates suggested.
Even when performed properly, CT scans deliver a dose of radiation to the skull that is 200 times stronger than an x-ray. The problem exists when that already high amount is inflated unnecessarily. Some experts believe that the radiation overdoses were as high as 13 times the amount of a normal CT scan. That is equivalent to a single patients getting 2600 x-rays in a single day.
The Food and Drug Administration is still investigating the overexposures. They have yet to determine a conclusive cause of the rash of increased radiation problems. Possible causes include improper manufacturing of equipment, inadequate training of medical professionals taking the images, and an unnecessary need to get clearer images.
Hair loss is the most common sign of an overdose, but symptoms also include headaches, memory loss, and confusion. The complications could be even more far reaching and include increases in risk of cancer and brain damage. Patients exposed to the unnecessary doses often have trouble identifying the cause of their problems. For many, the symptoms start with a band of hair missing around their head. For others red welts begin to form on parts of the body including the arms, legs, and back.
No patient should be forced to go through the physical, emotional, and mental struggles caused by overexposure to radiation. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti continue to fight for the rights of all patients who suffer at the hand of medical errors that should have been prevented. Be sure to contact a medical malpractice lawyer if you suspect that you or someone you know may have been overexposed to radiation or suffered any other complications caused by medical mistakes.
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