[ RadSafe ] Radiation Overdoses At Cedars-Sinai Prompt Investigation

Susan Gawarecki loc at icx.net
Wed Oct 14 15:37:10 CDT 2009

Radiation Overdoses At Cedars-Sinai Prompt Investigation
By Maggie Mertens
See website for embedded links: 

Only after a patient complained in August about losing some hair 
following a CT scan did Cedars-Sinai Medical Center realize more than 
200 people had been exposed to excessive radiation from diagnostic tests 
performed there in the last year and a half.

We first heard about the problem, involving doses as much as eight times 
normal, when the Food and Drug Administration issued a cryptic warning 
to hospitals last week, urging them to be on guard for excessive 
radiation doses from CT scans for stroke.

But the advisory didn't name the hospital or maker of the scanner 
involved. General Electric made the scanner, we later learned.

Now we know those details, but we still don't have a definitive answer 
on how a scanner being used to diagnose strokes delivered enough 
radiation to redden skin and cause hair loss in some patients. The FDA 
told us today that it's continuing to investigate both user errors and 
the scanner itself.

So far it looks as if the CT scanner operators at Cedars-Sinai failed to 
heed notices of jacked-up radiation doses after technicians reprogrammed 
the machine and overrode standard settings, the Los Angeles Times 
reported. The overdoses carried a 1-in-600 lifetime risk for causing a 
brain tumor, according to an outside doctor's calculation cited by the 

For its part, Cedars-Sinai says it has put in place double-checks to 
make sure the problem doesn't happen again. And the hospital continues 
to probe how the situation persisted for 18 months unnoticed.

GE has stated the excess radiation wasn't its fault. "There were no 
malfunctions or defects in any of the GE Healthcare equipment involved 
in the incident," they told us in a statement.

Back in August we reported how more and more people are being exposed to 
high doses of radiation through common medical tests, even when 
performed properly. If you're concerned about radiation from scans, talk 
over the risks and benefits of the tests with your doctor.

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