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April 4, 2005

Patients exposed to high radiation levels

Topics: Medicine

Here's a case of great technology, poor calibration, and poor quality assurance - in other words, the protocol should have provided for the radiation physicist to check the machine more often - like at the very least, once a month. Problems like this are not all that unusual, but a faulty protocol and no physics check for nearly a year is a bit out of the ordinary. A protocol that wasn't designed to catch calibration errors is one thing, but common sense and good science demand an occasional reality check. Don't be too hard on Moffit though, things like this can happen anywhere, and occur more often than you think. Patients should never be afraid of asking questions - good questions help good medical folks to stay on their toes.

- ST Pete Times
An improperly installed Novalis unit exposed 77 patients with brain tumors and malformations to higher-than-prescribed radiation levels for nearly a year before the mistake was caught, officials at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute said on Friday.

Federal inspectors detected the error on March 7, after 10 months during which the machine had been used. They determined that the machine, installed in May, gave patients radiation doses 1.5 times more powerful than prescribed amounts. According to a report by the Florida Bureau of Radiation Control, a physicist installing the machine plugged in the wrong formula so that the machine would automatically release 50 percent more radiation than prescribed.

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Posted by Hyscience at April 4, 2005 2:22 PM

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