Law firms file notice over Cabell Huntington CT scan radiation

By The West Virginia Record | Mar 24, 2011

CHARLESTON -- Two Charleston law firms are looking to file a lawsuit against Cabell Huntington Hospital for allegedly exposing patients to excessive levels of radiation during CT scans.

The law firms of Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler and Powell & Majestro filed two notices of claim on Tuesday against the hospital and Radiology Inc.

According to the notices, the firms plan to file a class-action complaint against the two in Mason County Circuit Court for patients who had Computed-Assisted Tomographic scans done at the hospital between Oct. 9, 2009 and Nov. 23, 2010.

The lead plaintiffs in the case are listed as Tammy Green, of Barboursville; Michael J. Lucas, of Milton; and Kathryn Hamlin, also of Barboursville. The class, according to the notice, includes "hundreds, if not thousands, of West Virginia citizens who have been overradiated."

The defendants, in addition to the hospital and Radiology Inc., include Brent A. Marsteller, CEO of Cabell Huntington Hospital, and George R. Troy, safety director of the hospital.

The notice alleges the patients received doses of radiation "above reasonably expected levels."

Those affected claim they've suffered hair loss, fatigue, weakness and burning sensations on their faces and heads.

According to a page on Hill Peterson Carper Bee & Deitzler's website, symptoms of radiation overdose include: headache, nausea, vomiting, pattern baldness (typically a ring around the head), memory loss and cataracts. Over time, radiation overdoses also can lead to cancer, dementia, brain tumors, brain tissue necrosis and radiation-induced encephalopathy.

Cabell Huntington Hospital revealed earlier this month, after an internal review of its CT angiography procedures, that a group of patients may have been exposed to radiation "above the recommended level."

"This should not have happened and we are taking all necessary steps to prevent it from ever happening again," the hospital said in a March 7 statement.

"Each patient we believe was affected has been personally contacted and has been sent a letter so that we can be certain they are fully informed and to recommend that they discuss this matter with their primary care physicians."

The hospital said it had been working with the manufacturer of the CT angiography equipment to ensure it is safe and in proper working order. Additionally, its CT staff members have received additional training to help prevent the possibility of any future occurrences, it said.

"We want to reassure our patients and community that their health and safety is our primary focus at Cabell Huntington Hospital. While we regret that this happened and are sorry for any temporary symptoms or inconvenience it may have caused, we are committed to handling this situation in a proactive and responsible manner and to treating our patients with the respect and attention they deserve," the hospital said.

The plaintiffs, according to Tuesday's notices, demand a trial by jury. They are seeking both actual and punitive damages.

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