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Cedars-Sinai investigated for significant radiation overdoses of 206 patients

October 9, 2009 |  6:02 pm

More than 200 patients at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center were inappropriately exposed to high doses of radiation during CT brain scans used to diagnose strokes, hospital officials told The Times today.

For 18 months, the problem went undetected as patients received eight times the dose normally delivered using a CT brain perfusion scan.

“The magnitude of these overdoses and their impact on the affected patients were significant,” according to an FDA alert sent nationwide to hospitals Thursday. FDA officials, who did not name the hospital involved, told all facilities to review their safety procedures for CT scans and warned that undetected overdoses put "patients at increased risk for long-term radiation effects."

A spokesman for the California Department of Health said today that the department is investigating the overdoses at Cedars-Sinai.

Some patients lost their hair and experienced reddening of the skin, according to the FDA and hospital officials. Cedars-Sinai officials said they first became aware of the overdoses in August when a patient noticed "patchy hair loss" after a scan.

"Since this is not a common side-effect...Cedars-Sinai immediately began in investigation of the equipment involved and of the protocols," the hospital said. Ultimately, hospital officials determined the machine had been set to the higher dosage level since February 2008, affecting 206 patients in all.

-- Alan Zarembo

Read more Times coverage of this story 

Contact the reporter with your personal experiences related to this story

FDA's notice: Safety Investigation of CT Brain Perfusion Scans: Initial Notification

Read Cedars-Sinai official statement on radiation overdoses

AP Photo