Recently in Product Liability Category

July 3, 2014

GM Creating Compensation Fund for Car Accidents in Recalled Vehicles

Not dissimilar to the asbestos trust created for victims of asbestos related diseases, GM is now creating a fund to pay out claims stemming from auto accidents in recalled vehicles. GM has indicated, rightly so, that it will not matter if the accident occurred before or after the safety recall so long as it can be proven that a defect caused or contributed to the injury sustained.

GM has been hit very hard with safety recalls in the past year with over 20 million cars affected by some form of recall. This compensation fund is intended to directly address the 2.6 million defective small cars with faulty air bag switches. GM has come under very heavy criticism regarding these defects which they allegedly knew about for over 11 years without taking proper action. GM is offering settlements based on the severity of injury if the air bag's failure to deploy caused or contributed to the victims injury. Wrongful death claims will be compensated by at least 1 million dollars.

Creation of a fund like this does not limit a persons civil right to bring a product liability claims but it creates a means for settlement while limiting the extensive costs of a product liability claim. If you or someone you know was injured in an automobile accident with a GM vehicle and the airbag either failed to delpoy or improperly deployed, contact our office right away for a free consultation.

October 9, 2012

Deadly Meningitis Outbreak Linked to Massachusetts Continues to Spread

This is an unfortunate story that seems unable to run out of steam. A nationwide outbreak of meningitis is being linked to a specialty pharmacy company here in Massachusetts. Every day the Center for Disease Control has increased the number of victims who have caught a deadly strain of meningitis after receiving a tainted steroid shot intended to relieve back pain. The current number stands at 119 cases of meningitis with 11 documented deaths related to the tainted steroid injections. The cases of reported illnesses has spread to ten States.

The company voluntarily recalled the steroid that was sent to clinics in 23 States after a tainted vial was found on their own premises. They have since expanded the recall to include everything they have distributed.

While there are no confirmed cases of meningitis here in Rhode Island, the Department of Health continues to notify potential victims of the possible exposure. An additional 50 patients have been notified of the link today. Victims who have contracted meningitis from the tainted injections will have a strong product liability case against the manufacturer who clearly released an unsafe and defective product into the market.

Meningitis is an inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. It is an extremely serious and potentially fatal disease because of the bacteria's proximity to the brain and spinal column. The most common symptoms of meningitis include headaches, neck stiffness, photophobia (aversion to bright light), fever and confusion. Antibiotics and antiviral drugs are used to treat meningitis once discovered by lumbar puncture.

UPDATE - October 30, 2012

Yesterday, the first confirmed case of meningitis has extended into Rhode Island. The total number of people sickened by the tainted injections is now over 300 with 25 associated deaths. This is a sad story that continues to develop each day.

If you or anyone that you know contracted meningitis after receiving the tainted steroid injections, should contact our office right away. Our experience in product liability and medical malpractice cases will help ensure that you obtain everything to which you are entitled.

August 15, 2012

4 Million Bumbo Baby Seats Recalled

Approximately four million Bumbo Baby Seats have been recalled from the manufacturer due to increasing safety concerns. This story from was sent to me by a friend and I took notice because both of my children have used and enjoyed the Bumbo seats. My wife and I have always been very careful with the Bumbo seats because there is no seat belt or other restraint to protect our kids and we were aware of the chance of injury. After reading this report, I am not surprised to find that dozens of cases have been reported of children suffering skull fractures and other very serious injuries after falling out of or escaping from Bumbo Baby Seats.

Bumbo Baby Seats were recalled once before several years ago when increased warning labels were placed on the units. While the unit has long since warned parents not to leave children unattended, the new warnings advised parents to never use the Bumbo Baby Seat on a raised surface, such as a kitchen counter, for fear that the child could fall a great distance. Unfortunately, even with the increased warnings, at least 50 known cases have been reported of children suffering very serious injury after falling from a raised surface. Following this new recall, the company that makes the Bumbo Baby Seat is voluntarily providing a free repair kit that includes a safety belt restraint.

If your child was injured while using a Bumbo Baby Seat, you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, both current and future, and any pain and suffering that your child has experienced or will experience in the future. The reported skull fractures are obviously a very serious injury and can also result in long term permanent brain damage. The compensation may be made by filing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of the Bumbo Baby Seat, and potentially the many retailers selling the product.

If you can prove that a product is defective, then you may be able to place liability on the manufacturer entitling you to compensation. There are three common methods of attempting to demonstrate that a product is defective:

  • Defective product design;
  • Defective product manufacturing;
  • Inadequate or insufficient warning.

From the outset, it looks like a viable case can be made against the manufacturers of the Bumbo Baby Seat under categories one and three above.

Defective Product Design

A product is defectively designed if it is dangerous even when assembled and used correctly. In this case, the fact that children can fall or "roll" out of the chair and injure themselves may be enough to establish negligent design. Furthermore, the fact that seat belts could easily be added to the Bumbo Baby Seat, increasing the safety of the chair, raises the question as to why seat belts were not included from the very beginning. Perhaps, some of these horrible injuries could have been prevented.

Ineffective or Inadequate Warning

The Bumbo Baby Seat was already recalled once for inadequate warnings about using the Baby chair on raised surfaces, but the warnings apparently did not get through to consumers. If it was not clearly explained that children can roll out of the Bumbo Baby Seat causing a fall, then the manufacturer may be liable. If the risk of injury was not clearly expressed, then the manufacturer may be liable.

If your child has been injured while using a Bumbo Baby Seat, contact my office right away for a free consultation. We are experienced product liability attorneys and will begin working on your case right away. A great deal of investigation and discovery will be required to prove that the manufacturer sold a defective product so it is imperative that you contact a personal injury attorney right away. There is never any fee unless we are successful in obtaining compensation for you and your child.

April 11, 2012

When Vehicle Malfunction Leads to Serious Injury or Death

I woke up this morning to a tragic story in the Providence Journal in which a Delaware woman was struck and killed in Rhode Island by a wheel that had "flown off" of a Hummer. Apparently the two vehicles were traveling on the highway in opposite directions when the wheel came free of the Hummer and traveled all the way across the divider into oncoming traffic striking the poor victim.

The comments section to the story included many questions as to fault in this accident, in particular, whether the owner of the Hummer should be held responsible. The answer is absolutely, yes. Not unlike my recent post discussing sudden illness and auto accidents, in which I explained that a person needs to be aware of their medical condition and accepts the risk of causing an accident because they fall ill, a person needs to be aware of the overall condition of their vehicle. Similarly, if our vehicle malfunctions in such a way as to cause injury to another person, then we are responsible for not properly maintaining the car. Driving an unsafe vehicle or ignoring loud noises or other warnings that the car is not operating properly is negligence and a person is definitely responsible if that negligence leads to another's damages.

The facts of this case, however, suggest that additional defendants will also be responsible. There may be several potential defendants for a product liability claim in connection with this auto accident. The personal injury attorney should explore how and why the wheel came off of this vehicle. Were defective lugnuts or wheel bearings on this vehicle? I have seen other online articles suggesting that the wheels of a Hummer H2 can come off at high speeds which leads to question whether the Hummer is designed defectively. If so, GM may find themselves a party to this lawsuit.

Additionally, one would have to see if the Hummer was recently serviced or repaired. Perhaps it was recently inspected and the inspection facility failed to identify the problem with the wheel. When a strange and tragic accident like this occurs, there are inevitably hundreds of questions. Yes, the driver of the vehicle will be liable for damages, but so too may other defendants as the facts of this loss are uncovered.

My deepest condolences to the family.

January 5, 2012

Truck Rollover and Personal Injury Claims

Truck accidents, in particular, truck rollover accidents are among the most serious vehicular accidents on the road and often result in serious personal injury or wrongful death. Truck rollover can occur to both commercial vehicles and private use vehicles. In some circumstances they can also result in a product liability case if the tire and/or truck was negligently designed.


Commercial Truck Rollover Cases

Commerical tractor trailers are all over the road at all times of the day. They can be incredibly dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, tractor trailers are often carrying loads in excess of 50,000 pounds. This tremendous weight makes the vehicle difficult to maneuver or take evasive action if necessary. The stopping time and turning time of a long 18-wheeler carrying a ton of weight is very long. If the truck driver makes too hasty a motion in the vehicle it can cause all or part of the tractor trailer to capsize or rollover causing a potentially very serious accident.

Commercial truck rollovers may also occur because the driver is too tired to safely operate his vehicle, yet stays on the road in an effort to meet a deadline or finish a job on time. Commercial truck drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel causing them to jackknife or run off the road. All too often, other drivers on the road are unable to avoid collision with these incredibly large vehicles.

Truck Rollovers in Personal Use Vehicles

SUVs and other non-commercial trucks have also had a long history of rollovers in accidents. While newer model SUVs and crossovers have a more stable weight balance and are less likely to rollover, the danger of a rollover remains, particularly in older SUVs. SUVs are trucks and can not be driven like a car. They are much heavier, possess different weight distributions, and may be "top heavy" when compared to other automobiles. Quick lane changes, sudden movements or slamming on the brakes may cause an SUV to rollover. When rollover occurs, the injuries to the driver and passengers are likely to be much more serious than in an ordinary motor vehicle accident.

SUV Rollover and Product Liability Claims

If you were injured in an SUV rollover, like any other auto accident, you may be entitled to personal injury compensation through your auto insurance or the at-fault driver's auto insurance. In addition, however, if it appears that the SUV had a negligent design causing an unnecessary rollover of the vehicle, you may also have a product liability claim. Product liability cases regarding SUV design have included: improper seatbelt design, failure of airbag to deploy, insufficient strength and design to the roof causing roof collapse, tire blowouts, poor stability design, poorly designed stability systems and ineffective braking systems among others.

If the SUV rollover was not caused exclusively by driver error, there may be a product liability case in addition to damages recovered from the auto insurance policies.

Continue reading "Truck Rollover and Personal Injury Claims" »

December 14, 2010

Depuy Hip Recall

Depuy orthopedics announced a formal recall of their ASR hip implant in August of this year and it has since become an increasingly talked about story. The recall affects two products, namely, the ASR hip resurfacing system and the ASR XL acetabular system. Hundreds of lawsuits have already been filed and many more are expected.

The ASR hip implant was marketed and sold in this country for approximately six years and has been implanted in nearly 100,000 patients. The reason for the recall is that approximately 13% of the patients who received the Depuy hip replacement required a second unnecessary surgery. Hip surgery is extremely painful and recovery can take many months of grueling therapy.

If you received a Depuy implant you may have a valid product liability claim. There are three common types of product liability claims:

  • Defective product design
  • Defective manufacturing
  • Inadequate warning and/or instruction

The Depuy hip replacement qualifies as a defective product design. The device is defectively designed and manufactured so that high levels of metal ions are released from the ASR hip implant. These metal ions released in the body can cause serious injury including, tumors, damaged muscle tissue, and osteolysis requiring hip surgery for correction.

It is also well established that the problems with the ASR device were known for quite some time. Many adverse reports were published highlighting the dangers with the Depuy ASR device and the FDA received hundred of complaints. The product was recalled in other countries as long as one year ago due to the serious risk.

Product liability cases are extremely complex and you need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you with this case. If you had hip surgery in Rhode Island or Massachusetts and received a Depuy ASR hip implant, contact our office right away for a free consultation. There is no fee unless we are successful in obtaining the compensation that you deserve.

November 1, 2010

Father of Four Year Old Girl Settles Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Crocs

A Tennessee father has settled a case against Crocs on behalf of his four-year old daughter. Crocs, the soft-rubber soled shoes and favorite of Mario Batali, have become wildly popular over the last few years. The soft rubber sole, however, is potentially very dangerous and lawsuits have been springing up across the Country.

In this case, the four year old girl was riding on the elevator with her foot close to the edge. The soft rubber eventually became entwined in the teeth of the escalator and the four year old girl was trapped. She suffered permanent and serious injuries as her foot was mutilated by the escalator. Warnings are now placed on Crocs and similar soft rubber shoes highlighting the risk of riding on escalators, but millions of pairs were sold without such warning and much of the general public may be unaware that Crocs post such a danger.

The product liability attorney trying the case cited several studies which demonstrate the inherent risk of Crocs:

Studies, including one conducted by a Japanese consumer safety testing firm, showed the Crocs and their imitators that "appear to be prone to entrapment when pressed against the (side) skirt guard or step riser while standing on the yellow line of an escalator."

Children were at particular risk because Crocs for kids were smaller, thinner and more elastic, the Japanese study stated.

A successful product liability lawsuit must show that the product:

  1. Was manufactured improperly and was therefore defective; or
  2. Was designed improperly and was therefore defective; or
  3. Lacked adequate or sufficient warning of dangers that the product might present.

In this case, an experienced product liability attorney could make a case for point 2 and point 3 above. The design was such that the soft rubber sole could easily become caught in an escalator which is a device used everyday by millions of people. Therefore, the danger of using such a product on an escalator should have been foreseeable. However, the easier argument is point 3. For years, tens of millions of Crocs were sold without adequate warning to tell people they needed to be careful on escalators else their feet may become trapped in the belt. Hundreds of accidents, with injuries ranging from cuts to severed toes, were reported over the years and it was not until 2009 that Crocs were finally sold with a warning regarding escalators.

Continue reading "Father of Four Year Old Girl Settles Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit Against Crocs" »

August 30, 2010

Rollover Auto Accident, Post-Collision Fires and Product Liability

It has been a tough year for the auto industry. This year alone Toyota, Ford, and GM have recalled over 15 million vehicles for various safety related issues! Technological breakthroughs might helps sell new cars, but the single most important characteristic of a vehicle is it's safety record.

It is important to understand that if you or a family member have been seriously injured or killed in an auto accident that resulted in a rollover or post-collision fire, that you may be able to pursue a product liability claim in addition to the at-fault driver's auto insurance. if the vehicle's design either caused the accident (i.e. the sudden acceleration accidents caused by Toyota's) or made the injuries worse (i.e. bursting into flames after impact) then you may be able to seek damages against the manufacturer.

Rollover Accidents

Every car designer will accept that at a bare minimum a car on pavement should never flip over. The introduction of SUVs in the past few decades, however, showed that top heavy vehicles may, in fact, rollover in certain collisions. If a car rolls over, an investigation may be warranted to determine if a flawed design made the vehicle unstable. In addition, since it is well known that a vehicle might rollover in certain accidents, car manufacturers need to prepare for the possibility. That means that the roof should be able to withstand a certain amount of pressure without collapsing and crushing the occupants inside. Doors, windows, and safety glass should be designed in such a way as to limit or reduce vehicle ejection (being thrown from the car).

Safety Device Failure

We rely on seatbelts and air bags to save us from serious harm in an accident and even if a car is nine years old we expect that these safety devices will work. If a seat belt fails or an airbag fails to deploy it may be caused by faulty design or installation. Without these safety devices in place, a relatively minor accident can become extremely serious.

Post Collision Fires

Vehicles igniting into flames after an accident is not a very common occurrence following the disastrous Pinto and the massive lawsuits that Ford faced. If you recall, the Ford Pinto had a gas tank dangerously close to the rear bumper which caused Pintos to burst into flames after a simple rear-end accident. Today, designers are very aware of the need to protect and insulate the gas tank from impact. However, modern cars have complex gas combustion engines and fuel lines criss-cross up and down the length of the car. Inappropriate positioning of any of these lines or the breach of a line in a simple accident might cause a preventable post-accident fire.

It is important that you hire an attorney who is familiar with product liability cases and who can see potential cases when a car accident has caused very serious injury. If you feel the vehicle you were in failed to keep its occupants safe, do not hire an attorney who stops short at the auto insurance policy.

Continue reading "Rollover Auto Accident, Post-Collision Fires and Product Liability" »

May 27, 2010

Another Chapter in the Rhode Island Lead Paint Lawsuits Ends

The story begins in the 30's and 40's. Despite the known harmful side effects of lead based paints, manufacturers continued to produce the product AND advertise that it was a safe kid friendly product. Finally, the truth came out and the United States banned lead based paint in 1978. The story is not unlike the litigation surrounding cigarettes and asbestos.

Paint manufacturers made billions and children across the country were placed at serious risk from lead based paint. In fact, many children today who live in pre-1978 housing remain at risk. Rhode Island was hit particularly hard and many children were poisoned. Our AG at the time, Sheldon Whitehouse, hired outside plaintiff counsel to sue the paint manufacturers to absorb the massive costs that lead based paint placed on the State due to increased health care costs and housing costs. The state won...billions!

The money was to be used to remove lead based paint from hundreds of thousands of Rhode Island homes. Despite this important ruling which sent a clear message to corporations placing profits before safety, the Rhode Island Supreme Court overturned the jury verdict.

The paint manufacturers, seemingly convinced of their own righteousness and believing the lawsuit to have been frivolous, sought to be reimbursed for all of their trial costs. Yesterday, Judge Silverstein ruled that the defendants were not entitled to defense costs because the case was neither frivolous nor in bad faith. Furthermore, forcing the state to pay the defense costs would deter the State from bringing future litigation intended to protect the public welfare.

March 1, 2010

Problems for Toyota Go From Bad to Worse

I have written about the ongoing debacle at Toyota Motor Corp. regarding their accelerator problems and numerous product liability lawsuits, and I have received a lot of calls from people who feel they have been victimized by a defective Toyota vehicle.


The more I investigate the situation, the more incredible it becomes. Toyota apparently was well aware of their problems, hid the evidence, and chose to ignore the problems. This may go down in history as a classic example of corporate greed overtaking public safety...not unlike the Ford Pinto, the tobacco industry, or asbestos manufacturers.

As product liability cases are launched across the country, attorneys have discovered that Toyota withheld potentially damaging information in previous lawsuits. The so-called "Book of Knowledge" was uncovered under subpoena by the House Committe on Oversight and Government Reform. According to Committee chair, Edolphus Towns, Toyota conducted a "systematic disregard for the law" and routinely violated "court discovery orders in litigation."

Among the information uncovered, Toyota has been concerned about the unintended acceleration problems as far back as 2005 and conducted numerous meetings and safety assessments. Toyota would often enter into negotiations during these early product liability lawsuits rather than disclose damaging evidence in discovery. These early plaintiffs would walk away satisfied that they were able to settle the case, but future victims were left in the dark regarding the dangers of these Toyota vehicles. The Committee has already placed the death toll from "runaway toyotas" at 39 (12 more than the afformentioned Pinto disaster).

One of the most interesting stories (at least to me) to develop from the recent discoveries at Toyota, involves a Minnesota man, Koua Fong Lee, who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter after an accident he caused killed a family of three. Mr. Lee defended from the onset that he was unable to stop his car or avoid the crash, but the Minnesota jury did not believe his testimony and he was subsequently convicted and sent to prison. In light of recent information, his case will be reviewed. I certainly hope for Mr. Lee that justice will prevail if he truly was not at fault for this accident.

Continue reading "Problems for Toyota Go From Bad to Worse" »

January 29, 2010

2.3 Million Product Liability Cases?

The headline might be an overstatement of what Toyota Motor Company is facing as a result of the recent recall of over 2 million cars, but the scope of their potential problems is still staggering.

In the United States, some 2.3 million Toyota vehicles (the worldwide recall could extend to 9 million vehicles) are being recalled because the accelerator pedal could wear down potentially causing it to become difficult to depress, become stuck in a partially depressed position, or become slow to spring back. Toyota claims that the percentage of vehicles that might actually be affected is very low, and there are no verifiable statistics as to how many accidents have been caused as a result of these accelerator problems. Nevertheless, Toyota is facing a great number of product liability cases.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee has investigated the problems which may be the worst since the Ford and Firestone Tire debacle. According to the committee, unintended acceleration in Toyota vehicles has resulted in 19 US deaths in the past decade. Many lawsuits, including several class action lawsuits, have already been filed against the manufacturer. The plaintiffs all allege sudden, uncontrollable acceleration up to speeds over 80 mph. Neither brakes nor slamming the vehicle into park was sufficient to stop victims from striking trees, running red lights subsequently causing intersection accidents, and in one particular case, accelerating over a cliff.

Plaintiff lawyers are alleging that Toyota has been aware of this problem for a long time but has failed to take adequate steps to prevent the disasters described above. One of the attorneys involved in a lawsuit against Toyota has stated that the company initially blamed the drivers, then improper floor mats, and finally the accelerator pedals. It should also be noted that Toyota recalled their Lexus ES350 and Toyota Camry in 2007 for accelerator problems, but failed to extend the recall to all of their vehicles. This may have been a reckless and deadly decision by the corporation.

In the meantime, factories are closed and dealers are prohibited from selling remaining stock. The company is acting quickly to either repair or replace the problem parts on affected vehicles.

Here is a list of all affected vehicles.

Continue reading "2.3 Million Product Liability Cases?" »

January 27, 2010

Kimberly-Clark Hit with 4.75 Million Dollar Jury Verdict

An Oregon man, Mr. Matthew Beale, has been awarded the sizable sum in a product liability suit against Kimberly-Clark which owns the company, I-Flow Corp. According to the lawsuit, I-Flow encouraged surgeons to insert a "pain pump" which supplies pain medication via a catheter to the affected area.

A jury has found that this pain pump is responsible for destroying the cartilage in Mr. Matthew Beale's right shoulder leaving the thirty-eight year old father of four permanently disabled. The story began in 2004 when Mr. Beale picked up a muscle injury playing football with his kids. He underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair the muscle at which time the surgeon also inserted the pain pump into the shoulder joint where it delivered medicine for several days. Mr. Beale began to recover but after six months found himself in excruciating pain. Mr. Beale now suffers from a condition called chondrolysis which is a severe deterioration of cartilage. Essentially, his shoulder cartilage has been eaten away leaving "bone on bone" friction.

In November, after hearing of many chondrolysis cases, the FDA stated that they have never approved such devices for prolonged infusion of medicine to joints.

This case will set a tough precedent for Kimberly-Clark and I-Flow since they are currently facing hundreds of similar lawsuits from victims suffering from chondrolysis. Attorneys for the plaintiff were successful in proving that I-Flow did not conduct sufficient testing, nor did it warn of the potential dangers.

Continue reading "Kimberly-Clark Hit with 4.75 Million Dollar Jury Verdict" »

January 20, 2010

Graco Recalls Over One Million Strollers Because of Possible Amputations

Approximately 1.5 million Graco brand strollers are being recalled after several children's fingertips have been amputated by hinges. The strollers, manufactured in China and available at all major retailers, include Graco's Passage, Alano, and Spree strollers and travel systems.

The children were injured by placing their fingers in the strollers canopy hinge while the canopy was being opened or closed. The reports so far show that five children have had their fingertips severed and another suffered serious cuts to their fingers.

Only a few months ago, MacLaren recalled approximately a million strollers because of a similar danger. Maclaren had received reports of over twelve children suffering fingertip amputations.

As with all product liability cases, plaintiffs who bring suit for the injury caused to their children will need to prove that the design of these strollers was defective. Considering a child's tendency to reach out for objects in their field of vision, it is reasonably foreseeable that a child might have their fingers near these dangerous hinges. This fact, coupled with knowledge of previous similar accidents, support a finding that the strollers were inherently defective and dangerous.

Continue reading "Graco Recalls Over One Million Strollers Because of Possible Amputations" »

January 10, 2010

Inadequate Chinese Facilities Making Inadequate Generic Drugs

Our country has certainly seen a surge of problems and lawsuits associated with dangerous or defective Chinese made products including tainted fish, drywall, baby formula, and toys. It is now becoming clear that generic drugs manufactured in Chinese factories will result in a string of product liability and wrongful death lawsuits.

The most recent lawsuit to make the news comes from Texas and the family of Lloyd James Robinson. Mr. Robinson died after having an adverse reaction to Heparin he received at a DaVita Dialysis Center. The family has filed suit against both the dialysis center and the manufacturer of the drug. As it pertains to the drug manufacturer, the theory of liability is that the Chinese facility in which the drug is manufactured does not meet US regulations. Reports of adverse reactions to the Heparin injections began in early 2008 and led to a partial and then total recall of Heparin products on the market. Following the recall, the Food and Drug Administration discovered the drugs were contaminated with a "heparin-like molecule," identified as over-sulfated chondroitin sulfate. This contaminant accounted for up to 20 percent of the total mass of the each sample tested.

In order for a product liability case to be successful the plaintiffs must prove either:

  • The product design was defective

  • The product was manufactured in a defective way

  • The unsafe product lacked sufficient warning or direction

While I am unfamiliar with the facts surrounding this case, it appears that the attorneys are targeting option 2 above. Cost cutting measures in Chinese laboratories that do not meet US regulations caused a safe drug, such as Heparin, to become contaminated and, thereby, defective.

December 15, 2009

Studies Show High Cancer Risk from CT Scans

This story seems to be popping up everywhere after I first heard it on NPR. A study to be released this week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, reports that CT scans are exposing patients to far more radiation than previously believed and in doses that could cause thousands of cancer cases each year.

CT scans, which use computer and X-ray technology to create detailed internal images, have become a very common procedure due to its accessibility and accuracy. In fact, nearly 70 million CT scans were conducted last year alone. It turns out, however, that CT scans expose patients to far greater radiation than conventional X-rays and the benefits of conducting the diagnostic test may be outweighed by the dangers.

The study reviewed approximately 1100 patients undergoing various routine CT scans. The results were startling. First, there is a huge variance in the amount of radiation sustained by each patient. The dose of radiation for a multiphase abdomen-pelvis CT study ranged from 6 to 90 millisieverts, and the average dose was 31 millisieverts. Dr. Andrew Einstein of Columbia University stated that 90 millisieverts, depending on how counted, is equal to "many thousands of chest x-rays." Thousands!

One CT Scan procedure can generate nearly thirty years worth of background radiation to which humans are typically exposed.

What is startling to me about this story is that this information was never discovered sooner. How is it possible that so few recognized the extreme dangers inherent in one of our most common diagnostic tests.

If such an exposure can truly cause cancer, then lawsuits are bound to occur. I am curious to see what information will be uncovered during the discovery phase as to how much was known regarding the danger of these seemingly innocent tests. This may be one to watch.