Hospital Technicians’ Lawsuits Allege Injuries from Radiation Exposure

Ct-scan.jpgA series of lawsuits brought by hospital technicians accuses the hospital where they worked of failing to maintain adequate shielding around its CT scan machine. The plaintiffs, in five individual lawsuits, allege that radiation exposure caused a variety of injuries and will require them to undergo cancer screenings for the rest of their lives. Two of the plaintiffs operated the CT scanner while pregnant and have brought claims on behalf of their children. The lawsuit names the company that operates the hospital, along with the engineering and architecture firms that built the addition housing the CT scanner, as defendants.

A computed tomography (CT) scanning machine rotates around a patient, using x-ray beams to create a cross-section image of the patient’s body. The process typically takes only a few minutes, so a patient’s exposure to dangerous radiation is minimal. Technicians who operate the scanners, however, could face prolonged exposure and associated health risks. Lead shielding in the walls surrounding a scanner is a standard method of protecting technicians from radiation. The technicians set up the scanner with the patient, then leave the room while the scanner is in operation.

Methodist Medical Center, located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, opened a new emergency department building in 2006. This building included a facility for CT scanning. The plaintiffs claim that the room housing the CT scanner did not have sufficient lead shielding, resulting in dangerous levels of exposure to radiation over a seven-year period. All five plaintiffs claim that they are suffering from health problems related to radiation exposure, including thyroid problems, sleep issues, and headaches. They allege that they all face a significantly higher risk of cancer, and require regular cancer screening. Two of the plaintiffs worked while pregnant, and both have asserted claims for their children’s injuries. One of the children allegedly suffers from severe radiation-related health problems.

CT scanners emit ionizing radiation, known to cause cancer in people. They produce far more radiation than standard x-ray machines. Their use as a medical diagnostic tool therefore requires balancing the many benefits it offers in the treatment of numerous conditions with the risks posed by prolonged exposure. The use of CT scanners with children presents additional concerns, as children are often more sensitive to radiation. State and federal regulations establish a range of standards for the use of CT scanning equipment. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for example, has established regulations regarding the emission of radiation and the materials required to block exposure to the radiation. See 21 C.F.R. §§ 1020.30, 1020.33.

The lawsuits allege that the defendants failed to meet safety standards required by state and federal regulations. The hospital had a duty of care to provide a reasonably safe environment for its workers, particularly those working with equipment known to pose significant health risks if not used properly. The engineering and architecture firms, they allege, also had a duty to design and construct the building so that it met the legal safety standards for CT scanner use.

Lebowitz & Mzhen’s personal injury attorneys are skilled at pursuing justice for people in Maryland who have been injured or lost loved ones due to the negligent or illegal conduct of others. Contact us today online or at (800) 654-1949 for a free and confidential consultation.

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Photo credit: By NithinRao (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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