Our collection of Blog posts on Health and Wellness topics that can help you be more informed and make better choices for your wellbeing. They are not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice from your health professional.

Over-Radiation Cases Rising: One Victim Wants His Story Told

In today’s New York Times, Walt Bogdanich reports on the devastating consequences of medical mistakes related to radiation treatment. He tells the story of several patients who believed they were undergoing lifesaving treatment but instead were hit with lethal doses of radiation. He writes:

As Scott Jerome-Parks lay dying, he clung to this wish: that his fatal radiation overdose — which left him deaf, struggling to see, unable to swallow, burned, with his teeth falling out, with ulcers in his mouth and throat, nauseated, in severe pain and finally unable to breathe — be studied and talked about publicly so that others might not have to live his nightmare.

Sensing death was near, Mr. Jerome-Parks summoned his family for a final Christmas. His friends sent two buckets of sand from the beach where they had played as children so he could touch it, feel it and remember better days.

Mr. Jerome-Parks died several weeks later in 2007. He was 43.

A New York City hospital treating him for tongue cancer had failed to detect a computer error that directed a linear accelerator to blast his brain stem and neck with errant beams of radiation. Not once, but on three consecutive days.

Soon after the accident, at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, state health officials cautioned hospitals to be extra careful with linear accelerators, machines that generate beams of high-energy radiation.

Without a doubt, radiation saves countless lives, and serious accidents are rare. But patients often know little about the harm that can result when safety rules are violated and ever more powerful and technologically complex machines go awry. To better understand those risks, The New York Times examined thousands of pages of public and private records and interviewed physicians, medical physicists, researchers and government regulators.

The Times found that while this new technology allows doctors to more accurately attack tumors and reduce certain mistakes, its complexity has created new avenues for error — through software flaws, faulty programming, poor safety procedures or inadequate staffing and training. When those errors occur, they can be crippling.

Read the full report, “The Radiation Boom: Radiation Offers New Cures and Ways to Do Harm.” Be sure to see this fascinating multimedia graphic that shows how radiation errors can occur. 

 Related Stories

@ChicagoMedicalMalpracticeLawyersBlog.com: A Lawyer's Perspective on Over-Radiation

@ChicagoLawyerPersonalInjuryLawBlog.com: Over-radiation Suit Settled for $7.5 Million

@24-7PressRelease: A Public Outcry Demanding Oversight of Over-Radiation

US Department of Veterans Affairs Fined For Under-Radiation

From The Washington Post March 18, 2010

Agency fined over radiation mistakes

The Department of Veterans Affairs was fined $227,500 after incorrect radiation doses were given to 97 veterans with prostate cancer at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center, a federal agency announced Wednesday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the fine is the second-largest it has levied for medical errors. VA was cited for lacking procedures to ensure and verify treatments were done correctly, failing to properly train staff and neglecting to immediately report mistakes.

Most of the men received far less than the prescribed radiation dose to kill cancer cells.

ADHD Rewards Work Similar To Rx

Medication and behavioural interventions help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) better maintain attention and self-control by normalising activity in the same brain systems, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust.

In a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, researchers from the University of Nottingham show that medication has the most significant effect on brain function in children with ADHD, but this effect can be boosted by complementary use of rewards and incentives, which appear to mimic the effects of medication on brain systems.

@MedicalNewsToday Blog: read the full report on this latest study

Protect Yourself From Sinister Sulfites

From the Wellness Blog by DrArmitstead

Sulfites are banned from use on fresh produce and cut fruits and vegetables that are to be eaten raw, but there are still supermarkets, restaurants, and salad bars that continue to use them. Sulfites function as sanitary agents usually to compensate for unhygienic food processing practices. Sulfites also help to prevent the discoloration of dehydrated, frozen or fermented fruits and vegetables. They keep potatoes white and lettuce green and they have been implicated in the deaths of at least thirteen people. Collectively they are known as sulfating agents and go under the following names:
• Potassium bisulfite
• Sodium bisulfite
• Sodium sulfite
• Potassium metabisulfite
• Sodium metabisulfite
• Sulfur dioxide

People who tend to have more problems with sulfites are asthmatics, people prone to allergies or deficient in the liver enzyme sulfite oxidase. Sulfites according to the FDA, are considered safe for healthy individuals who don’t excessively consume foods or beverages in which they are present. The trouble is that they are excessively present.

@Wellness.com: Read more and learn what kinds of life-threatening reactions sulfites can cause