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CoxHealth is Reviewing Files to Determine Impact of Radiation Overdose on Patients

Officials with CoxHealth in Springfield say 76 patients in the last five years received too much radiation when they underwent a kind of brain cancer treatment but it's unclear what effect it had on those patients. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

At a press conference Wednesday, the hospital announced that there was a calibration problem with a radiation delivery device known as BrainLAB. Some BrainLAB patients received about 50 percent more radiation than their prescribed dose. Dr. John Duff is the Senior Vice President of Hospital Operations at Cox. He says the hospital is reviewing files to determine what impact, if any the extra radiation might have had on patients.

“In many cases, the tumors these patients had were very serious and many of these patients had a poor prognosis when they began treatments. The review of patient records is ongoing and not yet complete so it would be premature if the overexposure had any impact on their current medical treatment or for those patients who are deceased, whether it was a contributing factor in their deaths.”

Duff says none of the patients who received too much radiation showed symptoms or reactions that raised questions about the radiation doses. Instead, he says it was a staff member undergoing training who brought this issue to the attention of doctors and administrators.

“Because no patients during this time period were observed to have any unexpected side effects, there was no prompt for Cox Health to investigate any possible problems. It was only when a second Cox Health physicist received training on BrainLab in September, 2009 that the calibration question was brought up.”

The physicist responsible for the incorrect calibration is no longer working at the hospital.