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Growing Popularity of Stereotactic Radiosurgery Highlights Patient Safety Issues


Stereotactic Radiosurgery, or SRS, is an innovative procedure that harnesses the power of a focused beam of radiation to treat tumors and other irregularities usually found in the brain or spinal cord. Unlike many other radiation therapies administered to patients over a span of days or even weeks, SRS has such a prolific and immediate effect on targeted areas that it takes only one session. But, using such an intense concentration of radiation in sensitive areas of the body leaves little margin for error. For some patients, medical errors resulting from lack of oversights in SRS equipment or procedures have had devastating consequences.

The Procedure

SRS can be very effective at treating brain anomalies while causing as little damage as possible to surrounding healthy tissue. SRS utilizes advanced three-dimensional computer models and complete patient immobilization to ensure accurate targeting of the radiation beam. Like other forms of radiation therapies, SRS scrambles the DNA of irregular cells, thereby shrinking tumor size. The combination of effectiveness and a low incidence of side effects when properly administered have made SRS an increasingly common treatment option.

Surgical & Manufacturing Mistakes

Although SRS can be a good treatment option, health care professionals must meticulously follow rigorous safety protocols to ensure successful outcomes.

At a hospital in Missouri, dozens of SRS patients received overdoses of radiation because a physician mistakenly used a larger-than-recommended beam meant for other kinds of radiation treatments.

In addition to errors on the part of medical practitioners, manufacturing problems with SRS equipment have caused their own set of unintended consequences. Some SRS units were built without proper safety devices, resulting in radiation leaks. Others suffered from electronic communications failure when retrofitted SRS machinery components proved to be incompatible with their more technologically advanced counterparts.

Patient Complications

The potential symptoms of an improperly conducted SRS procedure can be the same as the manifestations of any type of brain or nerve tissue damage, and thus vary widely: changes in mental status, imbalance, nausea, spasms, weakness, and vomiting are just a few of the possibilities.

If you underwent SRS and are experiencing any unusual health effects, consult a doctor immediately. You should also speak to an experienced medical malpractice attorney to explore your legal options. An attorney can help you secure compensation for your injuries, and prevent hospitals from making similar mistakes in the future.


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