Stroke patients received higher than normal radiation scans


Ten stroke patients at Glendale Adventist Medical Center received a higher than normal dosage of radiation during a specific CT procedure.The Los Angeles County of Public Health Department discovered the findings after they conducted an audit of the hospital’s CT protocols.

It was found that these patients received about three to four times the normal radiation dose, according to a statement released by the hospital.

The audit was done at the behest of the state public health department, said Sarah Kissell, public information officer for the L.A. County Department of Health.

The request by the state to look at all hospitals in the area came after Cedars Sinai hospital was found to have mistakenly administered up to eight times the normal radiation dosage during CT scans to 206 possible stroke patients.

“The Department of Public Health began the Glendale investigation on Nov. 19.  It is still in progress,” said Ralph Montano, spokesman for the California Department of Public Heath.

The county tested the Glendale facility on Nov. 17; state health office was notified of the findings on Nov. 18. Since then the state department has maintained regular contact with Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Montano said.

“No other patients have been affected or exposed to the higher than normal radiation doses,” said Alicia Gonzalez, media consultant for Glendale Adventist.

The CT procedure in question that was done at Glendale Adventist involves the use of three CT imaging techniques conducted at the same time in order to provide a faster diagnosis and treatment for stroke patients within their critical first three hours of having a stroke, according to the release.

The hospital has contacted the patients and their families concerning the procedure. One of the patients who received a scan in February died in October.

Montano would not comment on the death, only that the investigation is ongoing.

Verdugo Hills Hospital has been tested and has been cleared, said Celine Petrossian, hospital spokeswoman.

Jeff Schonei, the CT and MRI coordinator and licensed X-ray technician at Huntington Hospital, said that the scanner used at Huntington is a completely different type and brand than Glendale’s. They have not found any anomalies with their CT scan.

“There are only three or four of these machines operating in California,” Schonei said.

He explained that many scans would image only one part of the brain at a time. Patients can receive up to four separate scans over a period of time. The machine at Huntington is different because it scans the entire brain and uses less radiation, he said.

What concerns Schonei is that information concerning the radiation overages will deter patients from getting future scans. And timing is important, especially with stroke victims.

“The longer you wait the more of the brain dies. These tests are only done when doctors feel that the patient is at great risk,” he said.

Schonei added that since the information on Cedars Sinai scan was released his patients are asking more questions.

“And that it’s good. We reassure them that their concerns are valid. They should ask questions,” he said.