Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Cancer patient given radiation overdose at Edinburgh hospital

Western General Hospital Image copyright Google
Image caption The overdose was given at Edinburgh's Western General Hospital

A cancer patient in Edinburgh has been given twice the intended dosage of radiation by medical staff.

The patient was being given palliative radiotherapy last September at the Western General Hospital.

A Scottish government report said the patient was given a dosage 100% greater than prescribed and there was a "significant possibility of serious harm".

NHS Lothian said it had offered its "sincere apologies" to the patient.

The mistaken dosage was given to the patient between 14 and 18 September 2015.

Mistaken calculations were made by two radiographers based at the hospital, who both administered a double dose after apparently making the same error.

The report said "a number of mistakes" had been made by staff, saying these should have been avoided due to the experience of the radiologists involved.

However, it concluded that none of these mistakes could "clearly" be identified as wrongdoing or negligence.

'Deeply distressing incident'

The new incident comes 10 years after 15-year-old Lisa Norris was overexposed to radiation at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow.

She received an overdose 58% greater than intended, although her dosage was higher than that of the patient involved in the 2015 case.

Lisa subsequently died but her death was not related to the overdose.

Image caption Teenager Lisa Norris was given a radiation overdose in Glasgow 10 years ago

Dr David Farquharson, medical director of NHS Lothian, said: "We offered our most sincere apologies to the patient and their family following this very unusual and deeply distressing incident.

"Since then, we have ensured that they have been kept informed throughout the full and thorough investigation and reporting stages of the process.

"Cases such as these are thankfully very rare, but as soon as it was identified, we implemented a series of measures to minimise the risk of a similar incident.

"We carried out a robust internal investigation and immediately informed the external inspector."

He added: "In the report the inspector has expressed his confidence in the dedication of the commitment of Edinburgh Cancer Centre staff to the safety of patients in their care and acknowledges the many thousands of life-saving radiotherapy treatments that are successfully prescribed, planned and delivered at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre every year.

"We fully accept the findings of the report and an action team has been created to ensure that each point will be implemented as a matter of urgency, if it has not already been identified during our own investigations."

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