Cancer Patients Receive Higher Radiation Doses Because of Error
Moffitt officials acknowledged the error, more than three weeks after physicists with the federal Radiological Physics Center discovered it.
"We at Moffitt take full responsibility for the programming error," center director and CEO Dr. William Dalton said. "I'm sorry and all of us are sorry it happened."
The delay was necessary to allow Moffitt officials to meet privately with the patients, Dalton said. Of the 77 patients, 12 have died and two could not be reached because they were out of the country.
were having side effects, but overall, they were within the normal range
of side effects of radiation treatments," Dalton said. "We aren't
seeing unanticipated levels of side effects."
According to a report by the Florida Bureau of Radiation Control, a physicist installing the machine used the wrong formula, causing the machine to release 50 percent more radiation than prescribed.
"He made the same mistake three times. There was no good explanation," said Dr. Harvey Greenberg, Moffitt's division director of radiation oncology.
"They were supposed to have a second physicist independently verify the calibrations of the first physicist," said Bill Passetti, the bureau's chief. "It looks like the second verification wasn't performed, which is a violation of the facility's protocol and procedures."
From now on, Greenberg
said, the machine will be checked every week and every month for the amount
of radiation it delivers to patients.