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Too Much Radiation Perforates Bowel, Kills Chicago Woman

A Chicago, Illinois (IL)-area family has received a $7.5 million settlement from a hospital, oncologist and treatment provider because medical records clearly showed that the mother and wife received harmful doses of radiation while being treated for endometrial cancer.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Patricia Quirk received 17 treatments from Little Company of Mary Hospital, Radiation Oncology S.C., and physician Vera Petras that were 50 percent higher than prescribed. The overdoses of radiation perforated her bowel, and the internal injury became infected. That infection led to Quirk's death.

Many things went wrong at many times in this case, and almost all the mistakes could have been caught before they resulted in tragedy. As pointed out in the newspaper article, the most important thing the doctor and technicians administering radiation doses could have done to protect the patient was confirm the dosage by checking the machine's setting against the patient's medical chart. This likely would have prevented any subsequent problems.

My sympathies go out to the Quirk family, and I am pleased they received some justice for the medical negligence that took their loved one from them. The settlement cannot make up for the family's loss, but health care professionals--from doctors and nurses to pharmacists and technicians--must be held accountable for their mistakes and errors.

EJL
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