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W. Va. hospital overradiates patients with CT scans: report

by Brendon Nafziger, DOTmed News Associate Editor | March 07, 2011
Nearly 100 patients at a large West Virginia hospital have reportedly been overradiated by CT brain perfusion scans, according to reports.

Cabell Huntington Hospital, a 313-bed regional referral hospital in Huntington, W. Va., said on its Website the patients received overdoses between Oct. 9, 2009 and Nov. 23, 2010.

According to The New York Times, patients were overdosed up to nearly two weeks after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had warned hospitals of the risks from earlier cases of excessive radiation exposure from CT brain perfusion studies.

Over the last few years, similar cases of CT overdoses have drawn national attention from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital in California; and Huntsville Hospital in Alabama.

"This should not have happened and we are taking all necessary steps to prevent it from ever happening again," Cabell said in a statement on its website.

The hospital said it had notified all affected patients. However, the Times said the hospital knew of the overdoses for at least three months, but didn't publicly disclose them until contacted by the newspaper last week.

Side effects from the overdoses include temporary hair loss, generally in a distinctive band pattern stretching from temple to temple, reddening of the scalp and nausea.

But the hospital said "there is no immediate danger to the health of any of these patients." Cabell maintains that though the doses were higher than recommended, they were still within "the range of normal for complex imaging procedures."

According to the FDA, GE Medical Systems, which made the scanner, filed a report in December 2010 about a dose having been delivered at Cabell over the summer that was 5.6 times higher than the manufacturer's guidelines. GE said the error was the result of a technician manually increasing output. Cabell said staff members have "received additional training to help prevent the possibility of any future occurrences."

Santa Clarita, Calif. attorney Richard A. Patterson said he was representing at least 20 patients who had received letters saying they had received excessive radiation from the Cabell scans, according to the Times.

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