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Cedar Sinai in California exposed patients to excessive radiation and then kept silent.

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James E. Ballidis
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In a damning article in the Los Angeles Times on October 14, 2009, Cedar Sinai has been accused of giving a number of patients huge and excessive radiation doses which have caused serious consequences over the last 18 months.  To the 209 patients that have been exposed, there is now an investigation into why the technicians, trained to monitor the dose levels, simply allowed the exposure to continue.

This careless act will have grave implications for the 209 people, from hair loss and skin defects up through the more sad and devastating complexities of excessive radiation exposure like cancer, cell destruction and blood diseases. 

In medical malpractice, there are limitations on the amount of damages that can be assessed in a case such as this.  Medical malpractice provides these limitations as an effort at “tort reform.”  I have long pointed out that tort reform doesn’t work, because corporations need to feel the sting and bite of improper procedures.  The fact that this radiation dosage level was not checked for 18 months was indication of a lackadaisical attitude toward the care of patients, without any regard to the consequences of their future medical and personal history.  For these patients to endure a lifetime of trouble because of a simple mistake like this, repeated hundred of times, is just simply intolerable. 

What is worst, is that even after initial reports of hair loss by some patients, Cedar Sinai did not immediately investigate the matter, and further did not contact all of the patients until recently.  Now, because of adverse publicity and administrative oversight, they are conducting the “investigation.”  I’ll be curious to know how many patients continued to be improperly exposed after Cedar Sinai was first notified of the problem but before they conducted their “investigation.”

Whether it is a medical corporation or a business, they do not care about you and I, they care about profits.  Just like a driver text messaging and distracted that causes injury, these entities should pay for more than the medical bills and for the lifetime of damage that they have inflicted for their negligence.  Of course tort reformists will argue that the cost of insurance will rise if we remove these artificial barriers.  But the reality is that these people will either be compensated by the corporation that harmed them, or the public when they turn to socialized medicine for their care.  In either case, we are going to pay for it, it just seems it would be more appropriate to have the entity that was responsible pay more.

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