CT scan equipment malfunction resulted in extra scan w/significant extra radiation

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Mar 24, 2021
Adding my two cents: just because the company refunded your money does not mean they were wrong and you were right, or that you were entitled to anything. I would have never asked for a refund - I guess that is just me. Sorry that perplexes you.
I remain perplexed, woodworker.

This has been one of the more strange interactions I've had online. I received a double radiation exposure from one of the highest CT scan procedures available -- each scan's radiation equivalent to 100 full chest x-rays. I should have had one scan, but the *imaging center messed up*, so had to have another (and yes, it was critical to get a clean scan for the medical procedure). If it had been a single chest x-ray and they messed up, ok, not a big deal. But this is 100x the radiation. Not good. The company admitted to the mistake, they apologized, they didn't debate any point that I made (the exact words from the manager were "I can fully understand why you are concerned.")

You can't remove radiation exposure from the body, guys, so the only remedy other than "sorry" is financial. I didn't ask for punitive damages, I didn't threaten a lawsuit, I just said "please refund my out of pocket expense." First level manager said no, second level manager said yes. Money was refunded. Why is this request so wrong, so inappropriate? They made a mistake, I asked them for a refund, they gave me one. They could have denied this all the way up the chain if they wanted.

By everyone's logic above: they could have messed up 20 times, got it right on the 21st time, and I shouldn't be too concerned. What's your cutoff for the number of high-level ionizing radiation doses you would accept before saying "I think you guys messed up, this is not healthy for me, I'm not sure I should pay for this." You should be able to give me a number and explain your reasoning. For me, I was already concerned about having a scan which is the equivalent of 5 years of background radiation (maybe you're not concerned about that -- that's your prerogative). So my answer to my question is "two scans is too many" and the company agreed to a refund.
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Jan 6, 2021
Houston, TX
I think the perplexing issue is that you feel you are entitled to compensation for someone's mistake even though that mistake caused no damage that you can prove. Your argument is that it COULD cause problems later on down the road. I COULD die in an airplane crash...should I start asking the airlines for refunds on flights I've taken? You got the service your physician ordered (by the way, have you asked your physician about the potential problems from ONE extra CT scan or have you just depended on internet research?) and you got your money back. If this extra radiation causes a problem in 20 years, you can take comfort in the fact you didn't have to pay $1200 for it.
May 16, 2018
UPDATE: A corporate representative called me first thing this morning and they have refunded the charges. It was a short call, very much along the lines of "we neither confirm nor deny that we did anything wrong, but let's just make this go away." It seems they don't want to deal with any potential headaches. I already see the reversal on my credit card.

I sincerely appreciate your thoughts. You are very kind to share your experiences and suggestions. I must admit, I am still a bit perplexed by the suggestions that I shouldn't even be asking for a refund, that this request itself is almost inappropriate or frivolous. The company made a mistake, the local manager admitted it, etc. I think it's reasonable to request recompense in such a case. But again, thank you for all opinions.
That's great news. I've had a lot of scans of all kinds....the radiation is a concern, so much so for me that I don't agree to be additionally scanned at airports, where the machines are often not even properly regulated (a topic for another time). So I get how you feel. And yes, I know that there is radiation when at 38,000 feet and in other places. I control what I can.

I think some of the super-helpful people answering here don't always understand what it is to undergo yet another procedure just because someone screwed up. The harm caused isn't always measured in rads and cancer risks....and, no one but you knows your additional back story, which may indicate a higher risk, or a higher family risk. For those who haven't been through a lot, it may be hard to imagine how it feels to someone who has been poked and prodded and endured so much already to have to endure yet another hour in the tube because someone screwed up.

I think you had a right to ask for something more than an apology for the extra misery--part of patient care is caring for the patient as a human being, not just a test subject. I think they did the right thing by accommodating you. I don't know if they did that because they are a decent company or because they were worried doctors might refer elsewhere, or they wanted no bad publicity. Hard to tell, but the outcome is right. I don't think they were particularly worried you would win a malpractice lawsuit because you have to show harm has already occurred. I think they did the right thing for whatever their reasons were.


Jan 6, 2015
the United States
You do not, I think, need to justify your position BluePlanet. Nor is it necessary to understand the company's position, as they have refunded your payment. I congratulate you on that success.

As I have read your posts, it is clear that the first scan failed and that you simply wanted compensation for a second exposure that would not have occurred had their equipment functioned properly. I sensed no bitterness or revenge in your question or pursuit. What I also glean from my fellow volunteers comments is a perspective on "entitlement", which is a separate and, I think, valid context also.

Many patients have been and are subjected to multiple scans. In my case, decades ago I too realized what the radiation exposure would be for the repetitive scans I was about to face and quickly requested MRIs for each. I believe still that my request was wise, and it was fortunately granted.

Based upon your concern, I suggest that going forward you request MRIs.
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Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
@VoR61 just an FYI, not all imaging is equal as far as I know. Depending on what you need the imaging for, a CT scan may be the more effective than an MRI (that is how it is in my case, anyway.)


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
I'm glad this got settled in your favor. The reason there's so much discussion about your request for a refund and increased potential for cancer is that you have not been harmed. Therefore, there's no basis for a lawsuit. It's a positive for you to receive a full refund, but it was merely a conciliatory gesture to end the imaging center's discussions with you. Best of luck with your surgery.
May 16, 2018
I'm glad this got settled in your favor. The reason there's so much discussion about your request for a refund and increased potential for cancer is that you have not been harmed. Therefore, there's no basis for a lawsuit. It's a positive for you to receive a full refund, but it was merely a conciliatory gesture to end the imaging center's discussions with you. Best of luck with your surgery.
I take your point but also take issue. We don't know the long-term effects of the extra radiation. We only know he can't show harm for the purpose of a legal action right now. We all know there are plenty of lawsuits that are brought years after the fact, when a harm becomes known--and we often also find out that the harm or potential for harm was well-known by the company involved.

Second, there is harm done when one has to have repeated tests due to the mistakes of the provider, as these scans routinely require the use of medications plus dyes or other agents for the imaging, which must be administered via IV.

For example, I personally don't find being in the CT or MRI tube to be stressful, but I know more than a handful of people that must be sedated or asleep/under anesthesia to endure it. Also, almost all of my own CTs and MRIs have required dyes and other agents, that carry risks of allergic reactions (I have had one) and other side effects, not to mention another insertion of an IV. If they didn't carry risks, I wouldn't be asked to sign a form acknowledging those risks each and every time.
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