According to medical experts, 60% of patients in the U.S with cancer will endure some type of radiation therapy at some point during the life of their disease. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2012, there were approximately 800,000 new cases of cancer, and that translates to a lot of patients receiving radiation. Radiation therapy can be very beneficial to patients, but if misused, it can be very harmful as well.
Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and stop them from spreading. It can be administered internally or externally from special machines. There are many factors that are weighed to determine which type is received, such as the type, size and location in the body.
Radiation misuse can also cause horrible burn injuries. For an excellent burn injury resource, see our Burn Injury Firm website.
Unfortunately, Radiation therapy can kill healthy cells along with the bad cancer cells. Doctors administering the treatment must be very careful when administering the treatment, yet many are unskilled and untrained on such new, powerful machines.
Medical Field Falling Behind Radiation Technology
A series of investigative reports found in the New York Times exposed serious injuries that patients had received from the therapy. Most mistakes are occurring because the technology of new machines that deliver much stronger doses of radiation in a shorter amount of time has developed so quickly that the medical field has been unable to keep up.
Miscalculations when utilizing the machines have led to repeatedly over-radiating patients. Often, there are no procedures or safeguards in place for the mistakes to be discovered in time, and harmful treatments continue. There is no central agency in place to regulate who uses the machines, or to check the safety of the machines themselves, and often the patient is paying the price.
Misuse and over-exposure to radiation can result in catastrophic injury or even death. However, it is often difficult to determine the negligent party. Was the resulting injury caused by the medical professionals’ lack of training or failure to follow proper safety protocol? Was injury caused by misuse of equipment? Was itcaused by defective radiation equipment?
How Can You Protect Yourself?
The most important question to ask when facing the prospect of radiation treatment is the amount of experience a radiology center and its technicians possess. They need to have years, not months, of experience and training on the equipment being used. Also, make sure that technicians are trained and educated in the field of Medical Physics. You need to make sure the physicist you are using is certified by the American Board of Radiology . You can go to the American Board of Medical Specialties to check this information.
If you suspect radiation therapy errors have caused you or someone you know serious injury or death, contact Passen & Powell at 312-527-4500.