Radiation exposure isn’t the only safety issue that ought to concern radiologists.
Two radiology technicians have sued Bozeman Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, Montana. They claim that, while working in a darkroom at the hospital, they were exposed to unsafe levels of X-ray film developing chemicals.
Court documents say one of the women began working at the hospital in 2000 and the other in 2007. Both women say that within a short time, they began experiencing fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms. In the court documents, they say they were exposed to “unhealthy and toxic levels of Glutaraldehyde and other harmful chemical gases associated with developing X-ray film.”
The documents claim that on May 20, 2009, maintenance workers discovered that the ventilation fan in the darkroom was not plugged in and had never operated. In the documents, the women say that because of the “dangerous chemicals” in the unventilated room, they suffered damages including “physical injuries, medical expenses, lost earning capacity, lost wages, pain and suffering, mental, physical and emotional distress, loss of established course of life, loss of household services and other injuries.”
According to the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), glutaraldehyde is used in X-ray developing solutions as a hardening agent to shorten film drying time. The OSHA publication Best Practices for the Safe Use of Glutaraldehyde in Health Care says, “The most serious adverse health effect documented among employees exposed to glutaraldehyde vapor is occupational asthma, a chronic condition characterized by bronchial hyperresponsiveness.” There are no mandatory federal exposure limits, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends a maximum exposure limit of 0.2 parts per million.
The hospital responded: “Bozeman Deaconess Hospital voluntarily requested an on-site safety consultation in June 2009 by the Montana Occupational Safety and Health Bureau. The State of Montana’s representative reported that ‘[n]o hazards were found during the visit to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital’ in the area in question.”
The hospital said it would defend itself against the suit but declined to elaborate, citing its policy not to comment in detail regarding pending litigation.
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