Sunday, August 1, 2010

* Blind Faith: Deus ex Machina

The Valley News

The August 1 Sunday New York Times reports hundreds of cases of radiation overdoses administered to stroke victims in six California (and one Alabama) hospitals, due primarily to CT scan devices sold by GE Healthcare which have a feature which hospital technicians “thought would lower radiation levels" but which "actually raised them.”

Since the FDA was not “aware of the magnitude of these overdoses until the Times brought them to the agency’s attention” it is a bit tardy (sadly for hundreds of exposed patients) in “considering extending its investigation” which may bring to light a nationwide problem and hundreds, perhaps thousands, of more cases with risks as serious as potential brain cancer.

One Alabama hospital denies the overdose phenomenon exposed by the Times among its patients by saying, of the total number of alleged victims,  “the number is actually zero since the state does not define an acceptable dosing level. ‘No such thing as an overdose,’ said James L. McNees, director of the Alabama Office of Radiation Control."

Last year Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center was voted among the top five hospitals in America. I would like to know what leadership it has exerted ---or is planning to exert --- to make sure this error does not occur to patients at DHMC, especially since stroke victims are not in any condition to ask their radiation technicians to make sure they know how to accurately use the radiation devices they wield, perhaps unknowingly, as potential weapons.

So much for blind faith in god-the-machine.

Paul D. Keane
Hartford Village

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