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Excessive Radiation Dose
Coleman Legal LLP
Mar 8, 2018

Excessive Radiation Dose

Radiation therapy is a common treatment for cancer.  Radiation works by making small breaks in the DNA inside cells, preventing cancer cells from growing and dividing. Unlike chemotherapy, radiation is usually a localised treatment.

Some radiation treatments, systemic radiation therapy, are given intravenously or orally.

Errors during the procedures of a radiation treatment can be caused by various factors, including:

  1. Inexperienced Staff administering the treatment
  2. Machinery Errors
  3. Wrong Applicator Size

In December 2010, the New York Times warned that radiation overdoses can occur in several ways:

  • Cone attachment: Some hospitals “mix and match” linear accelerators with a cone attachment to perform SRS. Unfortunately, if the radiation beam is even slightly larger than the cone, the patient will get a massive overdose in healthy tissues.
  • Software problems: Complex software, programming errors, and inadequate training can all lead to radiation overdoses. Several patients have been severely over-radiated when the metal “jaws” that normally shape the beam were left completely open.


High Court Settlement for Excessive Radiation Dose – March 2018

An Irish woman who was given seven times her prescribed dose of radiation at St. Luke’s Hospital in Dublin settled her High Court action for €850,000 recently.

The lady in question was attending the hospital for treatment for a lump on her lip in January 2018 at the time she was given the excessive radiation dose.  The lady suffered immediate pain and ulceration to her lip and the following month it was noted that she became confused and agitated, and a CT scan determined that she had suffered a stroke.

Her case claimed the stroke arose as a result of her failed health following the excessive radiation dose she was given by the hospital.

It was also claimed that the radiotherapy was not supervised by staff members with significant skill and experience, and the wrong size applicator had been used to administer the dose.

This lady now needs 24 hour care, and has suffered “life changing injuries”.


Keith Rolls Partner Coleman Legal LLP

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