Your doctor can only provide you with the right radiation treatment if the machines that deliver radiation treatment are reliable. Mechanical problems, calibration errors, or other problems with the machines that deliver radiation treatment can be dangerous. While your oncology team may not have created the danger, there are things that your doctor, nurses, and hospital or clinic staff can do to prevent a radiation machine error from causing your serious injury.
How Hospitals and Staff Can Prevent Radiation Machine Errors
According to Dana Farber Cancer Institute, oncologists, technicians, equipment specialists, and others can prevent a radiation error by performing regular safety checks at every phase of radiation machine operation and during treatment planning and delivery. Specifically, doctors and other staff members should:
- Make sure the linear accelerator machine that is used to administer radiation is working correctly before use. Before a machine is ever used on patients, extensive testing should be done to make sure that the machine is doing what it is expected to do. An independent assessment should verify the results of this testing. After that, each machine’s dose calibrations and body positioning features should be tested daily, detailed testing should be done monthly, and comprehensive testing should be done annually.
- Double-check treatment plans. Radiation physicists or qualified staff members should review a doctor’s proposed treatment plan. This review should include testing the radiation therapy treatment plan to make sure that the linear accelerator machine will deliver the radiation accurately.
- Automate radiation delivery. To prevent a transcription mistake or other error, the radiation dose and shape of the radiation beam should be automatically transferred from the treatment planning program to the linear accelerator machine. After that, the machine should only deliver radiation to the patient if it matches the treatment plan. The machine will not work if it is programmed differently from what the treatment plan specifies.
- Get high-level reviews of new treatment plans. New treatments should be reviewed by a committee to ensure that the treatment can be safely delivered to the patient. This review should include resources or equipment necessary to provide the treatment.
- Make sure chart checks are done regularly. Peer review of patient charts can ensure that patients are getting the radiation treatment as planned by their doctors and consented to by the patients.
Not every hospital will take all of these steps, and some hospitals may have different quality control procedures in place to prevent radiation errors. The steps above are meant to provide an example of how reasonable medical care could prevent radiation errors.
Has a Radiation Mistake Harmed You?
If you received too much radiation or radiation to the wrong part of your body, you might be seriously injured. Before you know whether you have a legal case for damages, you need to find out exactly what caused the radiation mistake.
Our experienced radiation injury lawyers and staff nurse will find out precisely what procedures your treatment facility uses to prevent radiation mistakes, and we will find out if those procedures were followed in your case. If safety procedures were not followed or your cancer treatment team was otherwise negligent, we will fight for your full and fair recovery of damages. Your recovery could include losses you suffer because of the radiation mistake, rather than from cancer itself, such as:
- Healthcare costs like hospitalizations, additional treatments, medications, doctors’ visits, and rehabilitation therapies
- Lost income if you are unable to work or can't work the same amount you did before your radiation injury
- Out-of-pocket costs if you incur any expenses because of your radiation injury
- Physical pain and emotional suffering the radiation injury caused you.
You did not lose your right to pursue a medical malpractice claim when you got cancer. If a radiation mistake caused your injury, we encourage you to contact our experienced Kentucky radiation injury lawyers today to schedule your free consultation so that you can make an informed decision about your future.