radiation

Missouri hospital subjects brain cancer patients to massive overdose of radiation

Thursday, June 24, 2010 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: brain cancer, radiation, health news

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(NaturalNews) A Missouri hospital has admitted that it subjected 76 patients to 50 percent overdoses of brain radiation because a medical device had been programmed improperly.

According to the administration of CoxHealth in Springfield, a stereotactic radiation therapy device was programmed improperly after the hospital first installed it in 2004, even with an employee of the manufacturer supervising. For the next five years, every patient using the machine was exposed to 50 percent overdose. The error was only discovered in September 2009, when a new technician was being trained. A similar case occurred at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., in 2004 and 2005.

The hospital has suspended its stereotactic imaging program indefinitely for a full program audit.

The news comes on the heels of a scandal in which hundreds of patients in California and Alabama received as much as eight times the intended dose of chest radiation, and a new FDA initiative to reduce excess radiation from CT scans, nuclear medicine studies and fluoroscopies.

Robert H. Bezanson, president of CoxHealth, issued an open letter calling on the FDA to go farther.

"The initiative should be broadened to include regulation of medical radiation therapy as well," he wrote. "We have also learned that the incident here at CoxHealth is, unfortunately, not an isolated occurrence. Rather, similar instances of medical overradiation have occurred at other hospitals throughout the country. Without increased regulation and oversight, these instances of medical overradiation will likely continue."

Stereotactic radiation therapy employs ultra-high radiation doses to treat very small, localized brain tumors. Because the radiation dose is so high, only one treatment is normally needed.

Health professionals and the radiation imaging industry have increasingly raised concerns that many radiation devices are not calibrated or used properly, exposing patients to dangerous, higher-than-necessary doses. In many ways, they say, advances in imaging technology have outpaced doctors' ability to keep up.

Sources for this story include: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/us/25radia....

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