V.A. hospital faces new violation allegations

    Federal regulators say they have uncovered more problems in the operation of a closed prostate-cancer program for veterans. WHYY reviewed a new report that cites eight potential violations at the Philadelphia V.A. Medical Center.

    Federal regulators say they have uncovered more problems in the operation of a closed prostate-cancer program for veterans. WHYY reviewed a new report that cites eight potential violations at the Philadelphia V.A. Medical Center.
    (Photo: “Seeds” used for brachytherapy of prostate cancer / Wikimedia Commons )
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    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the Philadelphia V.A. failed to keep track of the radiation doses given to patients. It also says the staff was not trained to spot and report medical errors. Commission spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng says the V.A. will have a chance to dispute, or explain, the allegations during a meeting December 17th.

    Mitlyng: We are asking them to come and , you know, tell us what went wrong. What do they need to do to make sure that such errors do not occur again.

    Mitlyng says regulators began to question whether the V.A.’s reports to the commission were accurate, so inspectors recently went back to the hospital to cull through its records.

    In brachytherapy small radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate to kill cancer. The V.A. reported 98 possible medical errors associated with its Philadelphia program.

    Mitlyng says keeping an accurate accounting of a patient’s radiation exposure is critical for good care.

    Mitlyng: How can you assess? You have to be able to say: The patient received this much radiation and maybe he’ll need another treatment, or we don’t want to give him another treatment.

    V.A. spokesman Dale Warman declined to comment on the individual allegations but says the hospital is working closely with federal regulators.

    Warman: It was our staff, here at the Philadelphia V.A. who discovered the situation. Once it was discovered, the program was immediately shut down. We convened initially our own investigation. We hosted the NRC out here several times. So there have been numerous internal and external reviews of the brachytherapy program.

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