One of the drawbacks of living in a high tech society is that our population is being exposed to increasing amounts of radiation. In the medical field, radiation is a part of more diagnostic tests and treatments than ever before. The improper administration of radiation or accidental irradiation of patients can cause serious immediate injuries as well as have long term consequences on the patients’ health. When radiation is administered improperly or patients receive incorrect doses, the patients and their families have the right to receive compensation for the cost of treating any ensuing injuries or conditions that may result along with the pain and suffering caused by the error.
The Increased Use of Radiation in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Illness
Most of us are unaware of how integral radiation has become to diagnostic testing and the treatment of illnesses. While everyone is aware of the use of radiation during X rays, it is less common knowledge that MRI tests are performed while using ionized radiation in order to produce the images generated in the scans. Every imaging test utilizes radiation to some degree and it is estimated that the average person today will be exposed to seven times as much radiation during his or her life than in previous generations.
Radiation therapy is also very popular in the treatment of various forms of cancers. Unfortunately, the misapplication of radiation may result in the worsening of the cancer or the development of new cancer cells— especially in cases where the radiation is administered to the wrong area of the body.
Injuries Caused by Radiation Over-exposure
Short term symptoms of overexposure to radiation begin with nausea, headaches, fever, vomiting and visible burns to the skin. These symptoms can then develop into dizziness, fatigue, hair loss, lowered blood pressure, bloody stool and the development of cancer as the patient suffers from radiation poisoning. Radiation poisoning is extremely painful and must be detected and treated quickly in order to ensure a more positive prognosis.
Due to the gruesome and agonizing nature of overexposure to radiation, the victims of overexposure and their families have every right to demand accountability from the responsible parties. The damages that may be sought include compensation for the physical, emotional and mental pain that accompanies many of these injuries as well as the damage done to the victim’s family in the event that he or she passes away as a result of his or her injuries.
Causes of Overexposure
While human error accounts for many of the cases of radiation overexposure, other factors may come in to play as well and it is important to gather all of the information available in order to determine fault. The main causes of radiation overexposure include the following.
- Defective equipment that administers incorrect doses of radiation either during radiation therapy or diagnostic testing.
- Failure of technicians to follow required safety protocol to ensure that the patient is protected from radiation during diagnostic tests.
- Improper maintenance of equipment and the failure of staff to perform routine checks to ensure that equipment is working as it should.
- Administering the incorrect dosage of radiation or administering the radiation to the wrong area of the patient’s body.
- Training programs for radiation emitting devices that are insufficient to ensure the proper use of equipment and implementation of proper safety protocols.
Radiation Over-Exposure Malpractice Awards
$1,250,000 Verdict; Radiation Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The plaintiff that sued in this radiation lawsuit was in his middle to late fifties. He worked as a consultant to railroad companies to make a living. His complaint alleged that he suffered radiation overexposure during fluoroscopy for a cardiac ablation operation. He stated that the radiation burned his back and left scarring and disfigurement. Also, he complained that now he was at a heightened risk for cancer due to the error. The defense replied swiftly. They contended that this was a known risk. Further, they offered that they did everything they could to limit the risk of radiation overexposure, but, conceding, accidents happen. The jury did not show the defendants any sympathy. They handed down a $1.25 million verdict for the railroad worker-$500,000 for medical bills; $500,000 for pain; and $250,000 for disfigurement.
$15,000,000 Settlement; Radiation Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
Several things combined to create this tragedy. The incident occurred in a hospital just north of Chicago. The patient was a female in her late forties. She needed radiation surgery because she had trigeminal neuralgia. That operation went terribly wrong. It took a long time to figure out exactly what happened but several errors can be deduced. First, staff did not operate the equipment properly. Second, staff did not use safe equipment. Third, staff did not monitor the radiation as it went through the equipment and into the patient in an adequate fashion. The result was that she received too much radiation. She suffered brain necrosis as well as encephalopathy. These conditions eventually took her life. Her husband and three kids survived her. They sued for wrongful death. In a private settlement, they received one of the largest radiation overexposure agreements ever recorded, $15 million.
$1,200,000 Settlement; Radiation Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
The woman who filed this case sued after a relatively routine procedure. Doctors found a lump in one of her breasts so they recommended radiation treatment. However, staff conducted that surgery improperly. That required her to undergo a mastectomy and have the breast entirely removed. She sued the facility and staff. Her lawsuit alleged that the pair were negligent in their treatment of her and liable for all of the pain, emotional trauma, costs, and disfigurement it caused. She did not cap her damages when she plead for compensation. The two sides were left to hash out the appropriate value for her harms in private negotiations. In the end, she wound up receiving $1.2 million for economic and non-economic losses.
$300,000 Settlement; Radiation Malpractice; Cook County, Illinois
This dispute involved a couple of missteps. First, the defendant doctor failed to diagnose the patient (who would later file this action) with epithelioid sarcoma over the course of several visits and many years. Then, when they finally spotted and treated the cancer, they negligently performed the operation. The patient ended up suffering fibrosis and other issues because of the way they administered the radiation. Radiation-induced illness is definitely a form of negligence as well as medical malpractice and that is exactly what the plaintiff claimed in the subsequent lawsuit. Its mere existence suggests something improper was done and the defendants realized as much when they opted to settle instead of pressing their case at trial. The plaintiff obtained $300,000 in this radiation malpractice case out of Illinois.
Our Team can Help You if You Have Been Exposed to Radiation
If you or a loved one has been overexposed to radiation during a medical procedure, the Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC may be able to help you. Contact us today for a free consultation and we will examine the details of your case, perform our own investigation and go over your rights and legal options with you. It is our first priority to make sure that you have access to all of the treatment and resources that you need to be able to treat your injuries and to make sure that the cost of that treatment is recovered from the facility that is responsible.
We will never require payment from you upfront and because our attorneys work on a contingency basis, we will only be paid upon successfully securing compensation on your behalf. If we are unable to do so, our services and advice come at no cost to you or your family.