Articles: Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm

Earlier in the year, a New York Times article called “Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm” was published. Below is an excerpt:

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.-New York Times (link)

It tells the story of a patient, Mr. Jerome-Parks who died due to errors in the complex programming for the precision radiation equipment used, that caused him to be given more radiation than prescribed in areas where radiation was not needed.

While the article is lengthy, I encourage you to read through it. It is a thought-provoking and saddening incident that shows what happens when mistakes are made, and it’s recommended here not to frighten, but to show the many variables that are a part of patient care. Mr. Jerome-Parks death caused two of his medical caretakers to retire or stop seeing patients, and while radiation overdoses are a far less publicized medical mishap, it is important to note and remember (when we are hopefully all doctors), just how dangerous and subjective many everyday treatments are, and to treat them as such.


Please leave comments below on your thoughts on the article, etc.


One response to “Articles: Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm

  1. I was shocked to discover the low rates of admittance of medical errors by the hospital, and doctors in general. This is definitely akin to the crippling effect of “the infallible doctor.” If doctors do not take responsibility for their mistakes, nothing is learned, more mistakes are made, and blame/resources are wastefully ascribed to some other component of the healthcare system.

    I think this also highlights our heavy, yet naive dependence on technology. Checking to see if the shutter is properly adjusted for the patient’s tumor was a simple, manual task. This clearly shows that we should always be in control of our technology, not the other way around.

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