Hospital cited for continuing unshielded X-rays on babies

An inspection at a Brooklyn hospital, the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, last month found that the facility was continuing to perform inappropriate full body X-rays on premature infants--long after it insisted such practices had been discontinued.

State regulators suspect that similar cases have been occurring at other hospitals, as well. The New York State Department of Health is deciding whether to conduct spot checks around the state to determine the extent of the problem, Claudia Hutton, a health department spokeswoman, said, according to a New York Times report.

An inspection of the medical center was prompted in March following an earlier article in the Times that found that in 2007, the hospital had discovered that premature infants were frequently subjected to whole-body X-rays when only chest exams had been ordered. The errors at the time had not been reported to state health officials.

Medical center officials said they had put an end to the risky practice quickly. However, when state inspectors reviewed chest X-rays of premature babies taken late last year and early this year, they found 27 instances of infants' irradiated beyond the chest area without using proper shielding. Some of the infants had been over-radiated multiple times, according to inspection records.

Hutton said that if a fine was imposed, it probably would be a small one, the Times reports. "We just want compliance," she said. "This is not a revenue stream for us."

For more details:
- see the New York Times article
- view the AP article

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