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Patients administered overdoses of radiation during treatment

Patients administered overdoses of radiation during treatment


Three months after losing his wife to breast cancer, Michael Cambridge now has to deal with the news that she may have received an overdose of radiation during treatment.{{more}}

Cambridge’s wife Vida Tesheira lost her battle with cancer in April this year, but news coming out of the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre in Trinidad and Tobago, where his wife was once a patient, is that as many as 223 patients were administered overdoses of radiation during treatment over the period 2009 and 2010.

According to media reports from Trinidad, patients were exposed to overdoses of radiation between 4 and 20 per cent more than the required amount, from a machine called a linear accelerator.

In an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Tuesday evening, Cambridge disclosed that his wife was affected by the radiation overdose. He said while she showed no other visible signs, her throat was scorched, which Cambridge said led his wife to believe that this was caused by overexposure to the radiation treatment.

Tesheira, former Deputy Administrator at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. In September of that year, she travelled to Trinidad to begin chemotherapy, and according to her husband, received radiation treatment in June 2010.

The explanation given for the patients being exposed to the excess levels of radiation, after it was discovered by a senior medical physicist, was that the linear accelerator, a device used for external beam radiation treatment for cancer patients, had been miscalibrated.

“I am shocked and surprised that this thing went on for so long and happened to so many patients,” Cambridge told SEARCHLIGHT.

“If this was going on since 2009, they should have done something. It was a matter of calibrating the machine. Whatever they had to do, they should have done,” he continued.

“To let it go on for at least a year….”

Cambridge said that the situation was first brought to his attention some three weeks ago when a relative from Trinidad called and told him about what was happening.

He said that he had not been contacted by anyone, and to his dismay, his relatives in Trinidad also had not been notified by anyone from the Cancer treatment centre.

Although he said that he is sure that his wife was one of the affected persons, Cambridge admitted that his wife’s scenario may be difficult because based on the doctor’s diagnosis, his wife’s condition was already bad, with the cancer having already spread to the bone before she began any sort of treatment.

“I think it is going to affect my case even if it reaches to that point and there is a case to be made,” he said.

Cambridge further explained that he was only hearing about the long term effects for those still alive.

“But I have not heard them talking about the deceased,” he lamented.

This is why Cambridge said that he is being very cautious.

“I am waiting to see what the Government of Trinidad is doing with the inquiry, then go ahead and take things a step further,” he said, adding that he was quite aware of the high level of legal involvement.

“I have not heard about medical malpractice lawsuits being successful in these parts,” he said.

For now, he said that he and his two sons are just taking it all in stride and waiting for more to unfold.

“If I see a way that I could get involved legally, if I get that assurance eventually I would go in,” he said.