Veteranclaims’s Blog

January 28, 2010

New Jersey Veteran Hospital Overradiates Patients

Full Article at: As Technology Surges, Radiation Safeguards Lag
By WALT BOGDANICH
Published: January 26, 2010

In New Jersey, 36 cancer patients at a veterans hospital in East Orange were overradiated — and 20 more received substandard treatment — by a medical team that lacked experience in using a machine that generated high-powered beams of radiation. The mistakes, which have not been publicly reported, continued for months because the hospital had no system in place to catch the errors.

In Louisiana, Landreaux A. Donaldson received 38 straight overdoses of radiation, each nearly twice the prescribed amount, while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. He was treated with a machine so new that the hospital made a miscalculation even with training instructors still on site.

In Texas, George Garst now wears two external bags — one for urine and one for fecal matter — because of severe radiation injuries he suffered after a medical physicist who said he was overworked failed to detect a mistake. The overdose was never reported to the authorities because rules did not require it.

These mistakes and the failure of hospitals to quickly identify them offer a rare look into the vulnerability of patient safeguards at a time when increasingly complex, computer-controlled devices are fundamentally changing medical radiation, delivering higher doses in less time with greater precision than ever before.”

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