Ashland, OR asked in Medical Malpractice for Oregon

Q: I received excessive x-ray exposure. Can I sue?

I fell due to a pre-existing medical condition in the middle of a road. I injured my nose and one arm. I went to an ER where the attending Dr. ordered multiple x-rays, at 12, I stopped the tech and said, "No more" and he stopped. He would have kept going if I hadn't stopped him. Usually only two are taken for arm injuries. They x-ray'd my back, shoulder, chest and arm. Can I sue for excessive radiation exposure or anything else?

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2 Lawyer Answers
Patrick D. Angel
Patrick D. Angel
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
  • Lake Oswego, OR
  • Licensed in Oregon

A: I'm sorry you injured your nose and your arm from a fall. As to the question of whether you can sue for excessive radiation exposure from x-rays, the answer - technically - is yes. It's easy to file a lawsuit, and most anyone can file a lawsuit for virtually anything. There is a filing fee which can be several hundred dollars (in Oregon) depending on how much one demands in the lawsuit. The real issue is whether you can succeed in such a lawsuit as you describe.

The answer is it depends, but it probably wouldn't be worth pursuing. In Oregon as in most states, you must prove that you suffered harm, and that the harm was caused by someone's negligence. There is evidence that too much radiation from unnecessary x-rays does increase the risk of cancer. But absent a cancer diagnosis, it could be hard to show harm from the numerous x-rays. And even with a cancer diagnosis, it could be quite a challenge to prove the cancer was caused by the x-ray radiation and not something else.

Sometimes, the fear of developing cancer feels like an injury in itself. In Oregon, it is possible for someone to recover for the negligent infliction of emotional distress, in some instances. But those cases can be quite risky, meaning the risk of prevailing in front of a jury are significant when compared to the cost and time spent to put the case together, hire medical experts and present the case.

Remember, lawsuits against doctors, medical providers, including x-ray technicians, and hospitals are quite difficult. It's often hard to persuade a jury in cases like this. I'm very sorry to have to share that opinion. Good luck in whatever you decide.

Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer

Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
Answered
  • Medical Malpractice Lawyer
  • Little Neck, NY

A: I agree with Mr. Angel. Additionally, if a medical professional had a sound basis for conducting imaging studies, they are not likely to be challenged in court as whether they performed slightly more studies than was minimally necessary. An experienced radiologist would be able to articulate the medical necessity for conducting multiple series. Good luck

Tim Akpinar

Patrick D. Angel agrees with this answer

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