GE sued in Alabama CT excess radiation case

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An Alabama woman, who allegedly received an excessive dose of radiation from a faulty CT scanner, has filed a class-action lawsuit against GE Healthcare in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

Becky Coudert of Huntsville, Ala., filed the suit Dec. 15. According to the affadavit, Coudert’s hair fell out after receiving a CT brain perfusion scan on Sept. 8 at Huntsville Hospital to determine if she had suffered a stroke.

“Either due to the lack of appropriate safety functions, confusing methodology, or some other cause, Ms. Coudert was subject to a scan which emitted a much higher level of radiation than was either intended or is reasonably safe,” the suit alleged.

The suit accused GE of acting negligently by failing to install a warning system to the scanner that would alert users and patients to the possibility of radiation exposure during examinations. The suit also asked that in addition to any compensatory awards that GE create a fund that would pay for medical monitoring bills for patients exposed to excess radiation during the exams.

Arvind Gopalratnam, a spokesperson for GE Healthcare, said in an email response that the company is "aware of litigation regarding the incident at Huntsville Hospital in Alabama." He added that GE is continuing its "internal investigation," and noted that there were "no malfunctions or defects in any of the GE Healthcare equipment involved. GE has also confirmed that the GE scanners at Huntsville Hospital are operating as intended."

According to the two Alabama law firms that filed the suit on behalf of Coudert--Watson, McKinney & Artrip and Cusimano, Keener, Roberts & Raley—the “latent” nature of the injuries received, such as the possibility of developing brain cancer, means the proposed fund would be maintained for as many as 15 or 20 years, or until the period of time in which the claimants’ injuries appear.

Huntsville Hospital has acknowledged that they contacted at least 60 patients that may have also have been exposed to excessive amounts of radiation, joining three hospitals in California—including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles—that have disclosed potential cases of radiation overexposure from CT scans.

The two Alabama firms in the Huntsville case said they were acting in association with the California law firm of Owen, Patterson & Owen, which is representing several patients in the California cases.

In the meantime, GE said that it continues to "cooperate" with FDA officials on this matter. The company said it is working closely with Huntsville Hospital and, over the past month, has supported the hospital's efforts to review and optimize their CT protocols per the FDA's October and December recommendations.