W. Va. patients exposed to extreme CTA rad doses

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Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington, W. Va., has admitted to overexposing patients who underwent CT angiography (CTA) to radiation during a period lasting more than a year, potentially resulting in hair loss and reddening of patients' scalps.

Between Oct. 9, 2009, and Nov. 23, 2010, a group of patients undergoing CTA was exposed to radiation at levels above standard recommendations. According to a statement published March 7 on the hospital’s website, the doses were “still within the range of normal for complex imaging procedures” and pose “no immediate danger to the health of any of these patients.”

The New York Times has released pictures of patients with bands of missing hair, reporting that radiation exposure was more than 10 times the indicated doses. The hospital would not comment on these figures nor release any estimate of the number of patients involved in the incident.

Cabell Huntington has sent letters to patients potentially exposed to unsafe levels of radiation, while reporting that it has provided additional training to CT technologists regarding radiation dose safety.

In 2009, a series of overdose reports with CT brain perfusion, beginning with the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, led the FDA to conduct a safety investigation of CT, and issue five recommendations for CT manufacturers. The state of California passed a bill requiring providers to record the radiation dose of patients in late 2010.