Medical Radiation Treatments Fraught with Technician Error and Fatal Mishaps

medical-radiation24th June 2013

By  Carolanne Wright

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

Medical radiation accidents are more common than you may think. Whether it’s a software glitch or technician error, there are plenty of opportunities for a scan or treatment to go horribly wrong. And technologists are poorly regulated in a number of states in the U.S., increasing the chances of a serious and potentially life-threatening mistake.

As reported in the  New York Times, radiation medical technology is far from foolproof.

Do no harm

Scott Jerome-Parks entered  St. Vincent’s Hospital  in Manhattan to be treated for tongue cancer. Little did he know at the time, he was about to be exposed to several lethal doses of radiation which would leave him “deaf, struggling to see, unable to swallow, burned, with his teeth falling out, with ulcers in his mouth and throat, nauseated, in severe pain and finally unable to breathe,” according to Walt Bogdanich’s  New York Times  article, “Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm.” After receiving errant beams of radiation from a linear accelerator on three consecutive days, Mr. Jerome-Parks died several weeks later. He was 43.

Alexandra Jn-Charles is another victim of medical technology gone awry. She suffered from a fatal radiation overdose at the  State University of New York Downstate Medical Center  during her treatment for breast cancer. Over the course of 27 days, she was given three times the prescribed amount of radiation while the linear accelerator with a missing filter burned a hole in her chest. She died shortly thereafter at age 32, leaving behind her husband and two young children.

Up until the  New York Times  article, both cases were kept from public view by the government, doctors and hospital officials. According to Bogdanich:

“Regulators and researchers can only guess how often radiotherapy accidents occur. With no single agency overseeing medical  radiation, there is no central clearinghouse of cases. Accidents are chronically under-reported, records show, and some states do not require that they be reported at all.”

This poses a serious safety issue since the industry has little idea as to the scope of error which hinders the ability to correct the problem.

To complicate the matter further, training and oversight of technicians can vary wildly. The District of Columbia and at least 16 states do not require registration or licensing for technologists. And eight states permit  medical  imaging (except mammograms) to be performed by staff without credentials or specific educational background.

Christine Lung, vice president of government relations and public policy at the  American Society of Radiologic Technologists, remarks:

“It’s amazing to us, knowing the complexity of medical imaging, that there are states that require massage therapists and hairdressers to be licensed, but they have no standards in place for exposing patients to ionizing radiation.”

Sources for this article include:

http://www.nytimes.com

http://bjr.birjournals.org/content/Supplement_27/1/41.full.pdf

http://www.livewellnaturally.com

http://www.npr.org

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/health/28radiation.html

Previous articles by Carolanne:

About the author:

Carolanne Wright

I’m Carolanne — a writer, chef, traveler and enthusiastic advocate for sustainability, organics and joyful living. It’s good to have you here. If you would like to learn more, connect with me at Thrive-Living.net or visit Twitter.com/Thrive_Living.

 


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Please note this article was first published on Natural News.