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The Cost of Healing: Radiation Sickness and Overdose

Radiation MachineMany conditions affecting United States citizens today are treated or diagnosed with radiation. Common tests in hospitals and emergency rooms require radiation, and treatment for certain types of cancers involve strong, protracted exposure. However, it is not out of the realm of possibility that this treatment can cause problems in itself. Radiation overdose is a side effect that can occur after repeated exposure if a medical professional is not careful enough to space out tests or necessary treatment. It is rare, but it does happen.

Not all Symptoms are Malpractice

While causes of action for radiation overdose are not, in any way, exaggerated, there are some symptoms that are generally accepted as part of the risk. Fatigue is an extremely common side effect of radiation treatment, and it can also appear after repeated CT scans if enough occur in a short enough period of time. Other side effects include hair loss and low blood pressure. All of these are considered, in most instances, to be acceptable risks in the context of treatment. If you experience these, most courts will consider it something you must deal with, so as to experience the greater benefit of radiation treatment.

That said, if you experience unusual symptoms, or even normal side effects to an extreme degree, that may indicate radiation poisoning. For example, low blood pressure is a common side effect, but if it appears sooner than one to two weeks after radiation treatment, or if it lasts longer than a few days, it could be indicative of overdose. A real world case can be seen in the 2010 admissions by several hospitals around the country, including three in Los Angeles, who were found to have unwittingly administered radiation doses to patients up to 800 percent stronger than they ought to have been. Patients suffered tissue damage, dangerously low blood pressure, significant hair loss and other potentially debilitating symptoms.

Proving Medical Negligence

Radiation overexposure, whether in cancer treatment, CT scans or via another medium, is most generally caused by medical negligence. This does differ from medical malpractice, though it may do so only by small degrees. Medical malpractice is a subspecialty of negligence - in other words, you must prove more to establish a malpractice case than you would for a case of negligence.

In either case, a doctor or medical professional is required by California law to conform to a particular standard of care, and if they can be proved not to have done so, they may be liable. Medical professionals must act according to the prevailing standard of care, which will differ slightly from place to place, but the underlying requirements will be the same. If a doctor of similar age, experience and ability would not perform the test that caused the radiation damage, or if better attention would be paid to emerging symptoms, medical negligence may be able to be proved.

Seek the Advice of an Attorney

Radiation overexposure can be a difficult thing to prove, but if you have suffered because of it, you may find it advisable to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. The skilled San Jose medical malpractice lawyers at the firm of Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. are well versed in the unusual cases where it can be difficult to present evidence unless one knows just how to do so. Contact us today to discuss your options. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Alameda, Monterey, Santa Clara, San Benito and San Mateo.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.