According to hospital officials, a computer resetting error could be responsible for a large number of patients receiving overdoses of radiation treatment. Allegedly, 206 patients received overdoses during CT brain scans at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Several experts say a class-action lawsuit filed this week on behalf of the victims has little chance of succeeding. Tom Baker, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School commented “This is the kind of case that the medical liability system doesn’t help us with.”
The hospital released the following statement, “A misunderstanding about an embedded default setting applied by the machine” lead to the higher than required amount of radiation administered to patients. The patients affected received doses that were eight times the normal dose of radiation.
The error was not a one-day event, either. Rather, the patients received these treatments over an 18-month period. The direct result of the extra radiation, the hospital says, was that about 40 percent of patients lost patches of hair or experienced reddening of the skin.
Victims’ attorneys are likely to focus on the anxiety caused by the overdoses more than on the risk of cancer. Historically U.S. Courts are unsympathetic in “fear of cancer” cases because it is challenging to prove that the probability of future harm is high.
Attention has included the scanner’s manufacturer, General Electric. The company says that the machine was not defective. The direct result of the event was an issuance by the FDA to all hospitals in the United States to review their safety protocols for CT scans.