A mistake at LA’s famed Cedars-Sinai hospital has subjected more than 200 patients to dangerous levels of radiation. Everyone who has come to the hospital with a suspected stroke since February 2008 has gotten eight times the normal dose of radiation, the LA Times reports. That was when technicians programmed a new stroke diagnosis protocol into the machine—overriding its default guidelines in the process.
The screw-up came to light this August, when one patient contacted the hospital complaining that his hair was falling out after a scan. The hospital then checked up on the other 206 people who’d been scanned, and discovered that 40% were suffering from patchy hair loss, and often reddened skin. Radiation exposure causes cancer, but the risk is lower in these patients, whose median age is 70, because they are likely to die of other causes first, a hospital spokesman said.