New York Radiation Study: Cures & Harm

The New York Times conducted a study of the use of radiation therapy in New York State, and found that radiotherapy accidents were seriously under-reported to government regulators.The Radiation Boom: A lifesaving Tool Turned Deadly,

While the technology has the potential to offer new cures to some, other use of the technology, which has become ever more powerful and complex over the past few years, has harmed patients. Safety rules may be ignored. Staff may not receive proper training. Quality control guidelines may not be followed.

The story details two patients who received far more radiation than was therapeutic. One overdose was caused by a computer error that went unnoticed for three days of radiation treatment. The other patient received the proper dosage of radiation, however, a missing filter allowed a hole to be burned in her chest.

A March, 2007, radiotherapy accident involving Clifton Springs Hospital was mentioned as part of the article. In that case, the patient was "overradiated" by more than 80%, by inexperienced caregivers.

New York State health officials have warned hospitals to be extra careful in the use of linear accelerators.

The providers of radiation therapy have a duty to abide strictly by safety rules, quality control, staff adequacy and training rules in the use of these machines.