Wrong-site radiation case settled by Univ. of Toledo

The Ohio Court of Claims has approved the settlement agreement reached by the parties in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The plaintiff contended that doctors employed by the University of Toledo Medical Center had applied radiation to the wrong sites, resulting in “severe burns and substantial disfigurement.” The Court of Claims hears all cases against the state and its agencies, and UTMC is a state-run facility.

The plaintiff was a cancer patient when she went to UTMC doctors for radiotherapy in December 2012. She had four separate sessions. During a follow-up appointment, the plaintiff learned that the catheter used to deliver the radioactive material had been inserted incorrectly.

The placement of the catheter is critical in radiotherapy. According to Cancer.org, the catheter is inserted surgically into the body near the tumor or in a body cavity; surgeons use an x-ray or MRI as a guide. If the patient is being treated for uterine cancer, for example, the catheter would direct the material to the uterine cavity.

If the catheter is placed incorrectly, though — say, in the bladder instead — not only is the radioactive material introduced into non-cancerous cells but the cancerous cells are left untreated. The risk of incorrect placement, then, is damage to the healthy part of the patient’s body while the cancer is allowed to progress.

UTMC will pay the plaintiff $200,000 and will cover the costs of treating her injuries from the wrong-site radiotherapy. As is typical in this kind of settlement, the medical center admits no wrongdoing. The plaintiff releases UTMC from any legal liability, and neither party may pursue further action in the matter.

Source: Toledo Blade, “UTMC to pay out $200,000 in suit,” Marlene Harris-Taylor, Jan. 28, 2014