SWEENEY vs ERVIN (APP. D.C., 1913): RADIATION THERAPY INJURY
The patient suffered a burn on the back following a number of visits to a physician.
(It should be noted that not all of the early roentgenologists of the time were
physicians.) The purpose of the visit was to diagnose a rib fracture suffered as a
result of a railway accident. The defendant physician and a number of expert
witnesses testified as to the good condition and use of the machine. They confirmed
that the machine has been used in accordance with good practice. They added that
it was not always possible to prevent such burns. The court still ruled in favor of the
patient. The physician's defense that burns could not be prevented was weak in
1913, and would be even more indefensible now.
GRUBB vs GROVER (S.C., 1933). RADIATION THERAPY
Initially, the court had ruled in favor of the defendant radiologist in a case involving
burns suffered by the patient. But upon appeal to the Supreme Court, the higher
court ruled that the radiologist had been negligent in leaving the room and going
beyond hearing distance while the patient was receiving x-ray.
4-17. SLIP-AND-FALL INJURIES
Slip-and-fall injuries usually occur during the care and transport of the patient
when being handled by an x-ray technologist. The court decisions that implicate the x-
ray technologist also place ultimate responsibility on the radiologist and/or the hospital
(under the doctrine of respondeat superior, "let the master answer"). For the most part,
the radiographer is not named as a defendant at all, for the reasons stated earlier. But,
it is generally the x-ray technologist's failure to take all necessary precautions in the
care and transport of the patient that causes slip-and-fall injuries. Typical slip-and-fall
injuries may involve an x-ray technologist, who fails to properly assist a patient onto the
x-ray table, or an x-ray technologist who leaves a patient unattended on the table, or an
x-ray technologist who fails to caution the patient about not bumping into equipment.