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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

    £16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

    £27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

    £19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

    Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor