Case Synopsis: An elderly patient was being x-rayed at the orthopedists’ office. The technician was moving the x-ray tube stand into position over the patient when the tube stand separated from its ceiling mounting rail and fell on the patient and technician, injuring both. Suit was instituted against several companies servicing the tube stand as well as the orthopedists’ office.
Expert Analysis: Several companies had provided maintenance services under contract to the subject x-ray system since installation; however, no contract was in place at the time of the incident. One company provided service, on an as-need basis, at the time of the incident. There had been signs of a problem with the tube stand ceiling mount prior to the incident, but the orthopedists and the technicians who continued to use the system had adjusted such problems.
The problems were known to the service company, which had examined the ceiling mount and tube stand, as well as listed the need for parts and services. However, they clearly had not warned the orthopedists’ office of the immediacy of needed repairs or any danger to the x-ray technicians or patients. The maintenance company claimed they did notify the orthopedists’ office, but did not have documentation of the alleged warnings. The field engineer’s claims of notifications were by phone and were not backed-up in writing and were hazy as to time and details. The orthopedists’ office expected the field engineer and the maintenance company to notify them of hazardous conditions with the tube stand so it could have been repaired prior to the incident. It was the expert’s opinion that the service company failed to properly notify the orthopedists of the hazardous conditions and that failure to notify delayed the repairs, ultimately leading to the fall of the tube stand.
Result: A confidential settlement was reached.