Radiation therapy injuries – The unplanned hazards of radiation therapy

Hazards of radiation therapy

Throughout the last few decades, the use of radiation in the medical field has increased dramatically – likely saving innumerable lives in the process. In fact, the New York Timesonce reported that the average dose of diagnostic radiation received by Americans has increased sevenfold since 1980. However, radiation is not only used to diagnose medical problems, but treat them as well. For instance, radiation therapy is used to treat more than half of all cancer patients.

Tragically, given the strength of radiation therapy, it can also have very negative effects if improperly used or monitored. Patients, including those here in Boston, need to be aware of the adverse consequences and injuries associated with radiation therapy accidents – injuries such as severe pain, ulcers, difficulty breathing, or even death, just to name a few.

Radiation therapy injuries

One need not look far to find examples of radiation therapy injuries. In fact, the New York Times has cited multiples examples in several past articles – including a Florida incident in which an incorrectly programmed linear accelerator led to 77 brain cancer patients receiving 50 percent more radiation than ordered. This disastrous event is even more frightening given the fact that the accelerator had been incorrectly programmed for almost a year with no one noticing.

Other events of radiation therapy accidents include a Philadelphia hospital that provided the incorrect radiation dose to more the 90 prostate cancer patients, a New Jersey veterans’ hospital that overradiated 36 cancer patients and a Louisiana prostate cancer patient who received 38 radiation overdoses in a row.

These are sadly only a few examples of the types of radiation therapy injuries occurring in the medical industry. In fact, these injuries led to a New York Times radiation therapy investigation in 2010.

Despite the fact that many of the accident details were private under the law, the investigation surprisingly discovered 621 mistakes during a period from 2001 to 2008. Of the radiation mistakes found, 284 involved treatments that missed some portion of the correct target area, with some treatments being done on the wrong body part all together; for instance, treating for prostate cancer when the patient actually has stomach cancer. Even more alarming is that investigators also found 50 patients who were administered radiation treatment that was supposed to be for another patient entirely.

Unfortunately, radiation therapy accidents like these continue to occur. Accordingly, if you or a loved one has been injured while receiving radiation therapy, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to understand your rights and options.