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Patients Receiving High Doses Of Radiation During Brain Scans

Recently I posted and the Morning Call published a column (Head to Head) where Paul Carpenter and I squared off on the issue of whether lawyers were responsible for patients receiving too much radiation. Carpenter's misinformed theory was that doctors were afraid of being sued by lawyer (presumably like me) and so they ordered unnecessary testing. Now this - a new piece of equipment used to perform tests to detect strokes called a CT brain perfusion scan is causing people to lose their hair suffer from confusion and increase their risk of brain disease and cancer. The reason according to the New York Times is improper training and a design defect in the scanner made by GE Healthcare. Hundreds of cases are being reported, most of them at this point are in California and Florida. According to the Times the FDA is considering an investigation, and up until the time of this report was unaware of these reported incidents.  Most of these tests are administered in the radiology department of your local hospital. Up to 13 times the recommended doses have been reported. At least one hospital spokesperson has said that is it likely that these incidents are nationwide but as yet unreported. GE is claiming that the technicians are not being properly trained and the hospitals are saying that certain automatic settings which are intended to allow the machine to regulate the dose based on a patient's weight are anti intuitive and actually increase the dosage rather than lower it. It is also a well know fact that higher doses produce better pictures. Many people have developed hair loss in the form of a circular band running around their head about 3 to 4 inches wide. Some hospitals have tried to blame other causes like diet for the hair loss. Huh? Isn't the Frankenstein circle around the patients head a clue? One hospital is offering hair pieces. The uncertainty of the long-term prognosis for these patients is scary. Apparently the test, when used by properly trained technicians, and when properly adjusted produces good results. If you or someone you know has experienced these types of problems consult with your doctor since many of these cases have gone undiagnosed. I certainly hope Paul Carpenter has read this piece, but somehow he will still manage to blame lawyers for this mess. At Cohen & Feeley we handle cases involving defective medical equipment and medical negligence. Dennis F. Feeley


I read about these cases with great interest. We sometimes trust healthcare professionals too much. One more reason for patients to be wary.

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