Mr. Jerome-Parks died in 2007 as the result of a computer error that directed a linear accelerator to blast his brain stem and neck with errant beams of radiation. Not once, but on three consecutive days. He was being treated for tongue cancer.
Shortly after this “error” a 32-year-old woman being treated for breast cancer absorbed 27 days of radiation overdoses. A linear accelerator with a missing filter would burn a hole in her chest, leaving a gaping wound so painful that this mother of two young children considered suicide.
The full article reviewing these two horrible cases can be read at The New York Times – Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm.
There are reported cases of patients receiving treatment intended for other patients, radiation missing the intended target all together, overdosing, underdosing, and treatment otherwise gone wrong. The causes of the harms was often inadequate staffing and training, failing to follow a good quality-assurance plan and software glitche. All preventable in my opinion. The Times article states that “fines or license revocations are rarely used to enforce safety rules. Over the previous eight years, despite hundreds of mistakes, the state issued just three fines against radiotherapy centers, the largest of which was $8,000.” In my opinion this is why we need medical malpractice lawyers. We need to make hospitas wake up to the unnecessary harms they are inflicting and the only way to do that is make them pay money becasue oftentimes that is what most concerns them. It is the only way they will listen.