Brain scans disaster at celebrity hospital

Patients given eight times the normal radiation dose

With a patients' roll call that reads like an Oscars' party guest list, Los Angeles' Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre is used to making the headlines. But the hospital has found itself making them for the wrong reasons this weekend after it admitted exposing more than 200 of its patients to excessively high doses of radiation from CT brain scans.

The hospital to the stars is under federal investigation following the debacle, which went undetected for 18 months. Patients receiving CT brain scans, used to diagnose strokes, were given eight times the normal dose of radiation in incidents dating back to February 2008, the hospital admitted yesterday.

All 206 patients affected have been alerted – although around 80 already suspected something was wrong after their hair started falling out. Officials at Cedars-Sinai said they became aware of the problem in August after a patient who had received a scan noticed an unexpected loss of hair, which should not have happened. All hospitals in the US have now been urged to review their safety protocols for CT scans, and California's Department of Health is investigating the overdoses.

Past patients at Cedars-Sinai include the great and good of Hollywood, from Frank Sinatra to River Phoenix. Numerous stars have given birth there, including Judy Garland, Madonna and Christina Aguilera, while Heidi Klum had her fourth child there last week.

It is not the first time that Cedars-Sinai has found itself at the centre of a scandal. Two years ago, the lives of twins newly born to the actor Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, were endangered after they were given 1,000 times the intended dose of a blood thinner. State regulators later fined the hospital $25,000 (£15,600) for safety lapses involving the twins and another child. The Quaids sued the hospital, settling the case for $750,000.

It is not clear what caused the radiation overdoses. A spokesman for the US Food and Drug Administration said it was looking into whether the fault lay with the scan machine itself or the hospital's procedures.

CT scans are common in the US. Doctors order the scans as standard procedure to reveal whether a patient has suffered a stroke, which blocks the flow of blood to brain tissue. The amount of information that doctors get from a scan depends on the quantity of radiation that is used. Very high doses of radiation can cause poisoning and lead to cancer years or even decades later.

Although the hospital briefly stopped administering the CT brain perfusion scans, it is now offering them again. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the hospital could face restrictions on doing CT scans under its state licence.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

    £15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

    Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

    £60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

    Day In a Page

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
    The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

    Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

    Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
    A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

    A Very British Coup, part two

    New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

    Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms