According to the Food and Drug Administration, mistakes made by the operator of CT scan machines have been responsible for over 400 patients receiving an overdose of radiation. According to the Los Angeles Times,the patients were all undergoing a CT scan on their heads when the medical professional leading them through the procedure mistakenly exposed them to an unnecessarily high dose of radiation.
The radiation overdoses were first observed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles-at least 260 patients received eight times the normal radiation dose following s CT scan. The damaging exams were blamed on confusion over the computerized instructions provided with the General Electric scanner. To put the overexposure into perspective: the normal CT scan already gives a patient 400 times more radiation exposure than a regular chest x-ray. The patients here have therefore received the equivalent of 3,200 regular x-rays-leading to significant cancer risk, hair loss, among other problems.
The FDA has called on manufacturers to make design changes to prevent future mistakes. Specifically, the administration recommended that the companies that make CT machines compile information about radiation dosing in a more accessible form-operators often currently have little information on dosages. In addition, the FDA suggested manufacturers install “pop-up” warnings that would alert operators of the machines that they are administering a dangerous overdose of radiation to the patient.
Our Chicago malpractice attorneys at Levin & Perconti support all common-sense reforms to the design of these critical medical machines. In addition to manufacturer changes, it is also important that the medical operators themselves take the time to follow all possible protocols that would limit the radiation dose. Patients themselves are at the mercy of the medical professionals who inform them of the needed medical tests and procedures. Because of that dependence it is vital that medical professionals do everything in their power to limit harm to the patient when undergoing those treatments-including limiting radiation exposure.
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