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New York Medical Malpractice Attorney Recommends Cancer Patients Take Precautionary Steps Before Undergoing Radiation Therapy
Date:3/29/2010

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Further, Gurfein recommends that once the treatment begins, patients should stay actively involved in their therapy -- which is administered 5-to-7 times per week for multiple weeks -- to be sure that doctors, therapists and nurses are conducting regular quality assurance checks to be sure the patient is getting the right treatment.

There are a number of steps, Gurfein explained, that have to take place before radiation therapy for cancer is started. First, a filter must be designed for each individual patient to ensure that radiation prescribed in the treatment plan will indeed hit the intended targets, and block unwanted radiation from reaching other, healthy parts of the patient’s body.”

The New York Times reported recently that 36 cancer patients at a veterans hospital in East Orange, NJ were overradiated, and 20 more received substandard treatment. According to the report, a medical team that lacked experience in using a new complex, computer-controlled machine that the hospital had just purchased caused the errors.

“The risk of operator error increases,” Gurfein said, “as technology becomes more sophisticated.”
While New York State licenses medical physicists to administer radiation, Gurfein said the state does not mandate periodic re-examination.

“Once licensed,” Gurfein said, “a medical physicist need only submit the appropriate fee to renew his or her license. In a field with rapidly changing technologies, I believe the state should require re-examination every five years to maintain the highest level of knowledgeable practitioners.

“There is growing realization among those who work with this technology,” he added, “that some safety procedures are outdated, and that medical societies have been unable to keep up with the rapid pace of technical improvements.”

Gurfein recounted a medical malpractice case
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