More Botched Radiation Treatments At VA

In June we wrote that 92 veterans allegedly received <"">incorrect radiation doses when they underwent prostate cancer treatment at a VA hospital. A review just revealed that six more veterans have been added to the list, said

The news of the original problem came just after other reports about VA health facility scandals involving shoddy colonoscopies and endoscopies broke.

According to the Associated Press (AP) previously, the radiation issue involves veterans subjected to shoddy dosing during prostate cancer treatment over a six-year period at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia. The VA is a teaching hospital for the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine said The program, which began in 2002, was shut down last June.

The news of the additional cases is raising questions, said, that more cases may yet emerge. The newest cases were passed on to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week, said Now, a total of 98 men, representing the vast majority—an unbelievable 86 percent of 114—received incorrect radiation doses when being treated at the VA’s brachytherapy program, reported

What remains unknown is how the six new cases were not discovered in the review conducted when the program ceased, said “The only thing we know so far is that they are reporting six events,” said Viktoria T. Mitlyng, Commission spokesperson, quoted The Commission oversees medical use of radioactive materials.

According to the AP earlier, the hospital team performing the brachytherapies “botched” dosing and continued to conduct treatment despite that “monitoring equipment was broken,” citing The New York Times. Most implants were performed by Penn radiation oncologist, Gary Kao, said, previously, noting that Kao stopped seeing patients a year ago and is doing lab work at Penn.

Brachytherapy involves implantation of radioactive seeds to kill cancer cells, explained the AP, which said most veterans allegedly received ‘”significantly less” dosing than what was prescribed, while others “received excessive radiation to nearby tissue and organs.” Brachytherapy is an option only used in patients diagnosed with “small, early-stage, non-aggressive prostate cancers,” said

One of the problems involved a computer that was disconnected from the facility’s network for over one year during 2006 and 2007, said Also, 23 patients did not receive the necessary “post-implant dose calculations.” reported that the NRC discovered a number of what it described as system-wide problems at the VA facility, including that clinicians were never trained in how to define or report medical errors; a standard quality assurance (QA) measure did not exist; and problems were not revealed, despite quarterly audits.

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