Tuesday, 5 October 2010

New California Legislation Ensures Strict Oversight of Diagnostic Scans

It doesn't include all the points that California radiation overdose lawyers would have liked to be covered in legislation aimed at reducing the number of radiation overdose-related injuries in California. However, it is a start. This week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed new legislation that is aimed at increasing oversight over CT scans and preventing overdoses.

The legislation comes in response to serious injuries suffered by hundreds of patients from radiation overdoses between 2008 and 2009. The patients had undergone CT brain scans for stroke, and the injuries surfaced last year at Los Angeles Cedars-Sinai medical Center. Up to 269 patients received severely high doses of radiation during the scan process. In some cases, the overdose was as high as eight times the recommended dosage. These overdoses continued for up to 18 months before they were discovered. Eight hospitals nationwide have been identified as having been the sites of radiation overdoses, and out of these, six are in California.

Discovery of these overdoses has coincided with increased use of radiation for diagnostic purposes across the country, including in California. More diseases are now diagnosed through the use of medical radiation. These scanners are believed to improve diagnosis, but because the technology is so new and so undeveloped, and training so insufficient, the incidences of overdoses have been unforgivably high.

Serious errors have been made while programming the machines and have resulted in major overdoses. The machines have not been equipped with safeguards that prevent radiation from being emitted when the device is not programmed correctly. In many hospitals, staff has not been trained to use this equipment correctly, or to identify errors. This has meant devastating consequences for patients.

Much of the problem lies in the fact that there has been lax regulation of the medical scanner industry, and California and other states have been guilty of lack of oversight over the industry. Legislation is the first and most important step in improving scanner safety standards in California, and this legislation is a first step towards that direction.

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