Issue: June 2012
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Too Much, Too Little, Too Late: Injuries from Delays and Failures to Perform CT Scans or Overexposure to Radiation

Introduction

Risks and Benefits of CT Scans; Ionizing Radiation Injury and Other Litigation

CT scans deliver much more radiation than previously thought, contributing to as many as 29,000 new cancers each year and as many as 15,000 deaths annually. CT scans expose patients to ionizing radiation, causing change at the cellular level. Overexposure may result in cancer and other injury. Patients also may suffer injury from the failure to perform a CT scan or a delay in ordering a scan, however, as the diagnostic benefits often outweigh the risks.

 

The disclosure of patient overexposure at several hospitals has prompted the recent filing of a number of lawsuits. The FDA announced on May 9, 2012 new efforts to protect children from unnecessary radiation exposure as part of its ongoing Initiative to Reduce Unnecessary Radiation Exposure from Medical Imaging.

 

It is critical for plaintiff and defense attorneys and in-house insurance and hospital professionals to understand CT scan liability.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to prove medical malpractice for failure to order or perform a CT scan?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for injuries related to CT scans?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy for an injury involving a CT scan be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or the injury was not caused by the health provider’s actions?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for injuries caused by overexposure to radiation from CT scans?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Counsel must develop a list of facts and circumstances, specific to the client’s fact situation, which demonstrates proof of injury in connection with CT scans, including injuries resulting from the delay or failure to perform a CT scan or injuries due to overexposure to radiation from CT scans.

Physicians:

Physicians must consider this litigation checklist when defending an alleged medical malpractice or negligence claim arising from an injury related to CT Scans.

Insurers:

When investigating a claim of overexposure to radiation from CT scans, the insurer should carefully evaluate the actions of the health provider.

Employers:

A checklist for employers to determine if the physician was in an employer-employee relationship with the hospital and if the physician’s negligence in connection with the CT scan occurred “in the course and scope of the employment."

Expert Analysis

What Litigation Options Are Available for Mass Overexposure to CT Scan Radiation?

William H. Newkirk, J.D.

How Can the Informed Consent Process Be Used to Explain Medical Radiation Risks?

Richard Semelka, M.D.

What Are the Risks and Benefits of CT Scans?

Kenneth W. Eckmann, M.D.

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Reasons to Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the CT scan injury action to trial.


Reasons to Go to Trial

Reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the CT scan injury action to trial.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded recently in cases involving delay in performing a CT scan, failure to perform a CT scan, and radiation overexposure generally?



Medical Examples

Medical: CT Scan Injury

This section provides detailed medical information on CT scan and radiation terminology, overexposure, symptoms, and treatment, and discusses the prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

References

A listing of law and medical references for further information on injury involving CT scans.


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Too Much, Too Little, Too Late: Injuries from Delays and Failures to Perform CT Scans or Overexposure to Radiation

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   William H. Newkirk, J.D.
   Richard Semelka, M.D.
   Kenneth W. Eckmann, M.D.

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employers and Risk Managers

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons to Go to Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Medical: CT Scan Injury

References