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Radiation Errors Often Go Unreported as Medical Errors

A recent study by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) has uncovered a startling trend in radiation errors - many radiation errors are not reported to the patient or to the hospital despite the responsibility to do so.

The study asked four radiation oncology centers to fill out a survey of observed and reported errors or near-errors in radiation. According to the survey, "staff collectively admitted to failing to sometimes report 36.4 percent of minor near misses, 14.2 percent of major near misses, 24.5 percent of minor errors and 4 percent of major errors," according to the Medscape report. Radiation errors can lead to serious complications and are medical errors that can provide the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The University of Miami was one of the four radiation centers that responded to the ASTRO survey. The survey found that the most common reason for neglecting to report a radiation error was fear of medical sanction.

When a radiation patient is injured by an error, whether it's a major or minor error, the patient has a right to know of the error. Radiation errors can lead to serious health complications including burns, hair loss, cancer and cataracts.

Source: Medscape Today, "Survey Unveils Scope of Unreported Radiation Errors," Nick Mulcahy, 10/7/2011

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