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Five radiologic technologists have filed lawsuits alleging that Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, exposed them to radiation by building walls around an emergency department imaging center that lacked the required shielding.

The hospital said in a statement that it disputed the allegations:

We maintain an active and ongoing radiation quality and compliance program with specific procedures to monitor safety. Based on the results of this program, it has been verified that we have met all safety standards for radiation exposure. We intend to refute these accusations vigorously.

The Oak Ridge Today news website reported on the lawsuits, which were filed Monday in Anderson County Circuit Court in Clinton, Tennessee. Defendants were Covenant Health of Knoxville, Tennessee, which owns the hospital; Rentenbach Engineering Company of Knoxville, doing business as Rentenbach Constructors; and TEG Architects of Jeffersonville, Indiana.

The lawsuits say that when the hospital built a new emergency department, which opened in 2006, some of the walls were constructed without the required lead shielding. The plaintiffs say that left them exposed to excess levels of radiation.  As a result, they say, they’re at risk of developing radiation-related health problems, and some already have illnesses that may be related to radiation exposure.

The lawsuits allege violations of state and federal rules, requirements, and standards.

The plaintiffs are:

  • Micah Noelle Lewellen of Knoxville, an X-ray technologist, and her child. The suit says the alleged defects exposed the child to excess radiation while Lewellen was pregnant.
  • Keith Gillis of Knoxville, a CT technologist.
  • Michael Phillips of Clinton, a CT technologist.
  • Connie Raby of Clinton, an X-ray technologist.
  • Mary Ridenour of Andersonville, a CT technologist, and her child. Ridenour’s suit also says the child was exposed to excess radiation during Ridenour’s pregnancy.

Phillips and Raby say they have thyroid problems, headaches, sleeping difficulties, and other health problems, according to their lawsuits.  Gillis’s lawsuit says he has seizures and memory loss.

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