Report: VA errors caused radiation burns

June 22, 2009 at 12:00 AM
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PHILADELPHIA, June 21 (UPI) -- A doctor at the Philadelphia Veterans Administration hospital was off target on most of more than 100 patients he treated for prostate cancer, records showed.

Dr. Gary Kao has left the hospital after botching 92 of the 112 procedures involving the implantation of radioactive metal "seeds" in the prostate glands of patients, The New York Times reported Sunday.

The newspaper said the seeds wound up instead in the rectums, bladders and other healthy organs of the patients, sometimes causing painful radiation burns or other side effects.

Kao's lawyer disputed The Times' account of the six-year span but the newspaper said he practiced in an environment in which there was no in-house peer review of the doctors and was allowed to alter surgical paperwork without any objection from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

"I'm not easily shaken," said Dr. Leon S. Malmud, chairman of a nuclear commission advisory committee, "But this is a very anxiety-provoking story."

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