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Cedars-Sinai head expresses regret for radiation overdoses

The hospital's chief executive, Thomas M. Priselac, details reforms made after 206 patients were subjected to overdoses caused by erroneous settings on a CT scanner.

October 16, 2009|Alan Zarembo

The chief executive of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said Thursday that he regretted the "circumstances" that subjected 206 patients to radiation overdoses and laid out reforms made since the hospital discovered that a CT scanner had been set erroneously for 18 months.

In a written statement, Thomas M. Priselac said: "We take very seriously our responsibility for operating medical equipment in the safest possible manner, and deeply regret the circumstances that led to patients undergoing CT brain perfusion studies receiving a higher than appropriate level of radiation."

Hospital officials have said the overdoses began in February 2008 after the hospital made an error while reconfiguring a scanner. The mistake affected only patients undergoing CT brain perfusion scans, used to diagnose strokes.

About 80 patients temporarily lost patches of hair as a result of the scans, which delivered eight times the necessary radiation.

In the wake of the error, the hospital has established a chain of authority for making such reconfigurations and ensuring that they do not result in excess radiation, the statement said. CT technologists, who run the machines, will receive extra on-the-job training.

Priselac did not explain who changed the scanner settings, who authorized the change or how the high dose levels went unnoticed for 18 months.

"Those are part of our ongoing investigation," said Richard Elbaum, a hospital spokesman.

The state Department of Public Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are also investigating the overdoses.

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alan.zarembo@latimes.com

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