Huge bungle in cancer patients’ radiation doses
Cancer patients may have been subjected to doses of radiation too strong or too weak to safely fight their disease at a Bendigo clinic, health authorities fear.
As investigations stepped up into the Quality Cancer Care clinic on Wednesday, it emerged a doctor now suspended from practice may have treated dozens of patients with the wrong dosage of radiotherapy.
Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre specialists have taken over the immediate treatment of 42 skin cancer patients from Quality Cancer Care while Safer Care Victoria officers trace up to 2700 past clients to determine if their diagnosis and treatments were appropriate.
Victoria's Health Complaints Commissioner yesterday made an interim prohibition order banning Quality Cancer Care from providing any health services due concerns for public safety, also launching a third investigation into the practice.
Health Minister Jenny Mikakos said a specialist clinic is being set up offer reviews for anyone who has been a patient at Quality Cancer Care.
"Safer Care Victoria and the dedicated clinicians at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre Bendigo and Bendigo Health have acted swiftly and appropriately to protect public health and ensure skin cancer patients in Bendigo and surrounds are getting the medical advice and care they need," Ms Mikakos said.
"Past patients from private skin cancer clinic Quality Cancer Care in Bendigo are urged to contact the dedicated hotline if they have any concerns about the diagnosis or treatment they have received.
"What has come to light is very concerning and demonstrates the vital role that Safer Care Victoria plays in our health system."
The revelations come after the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority banned Quality Cancer Care director Dr Wesley Miles - who is also listed as the clinic's Consultant Radiation Oncologist - from practising medicine from April 30.
When the private skin cancer clinic shut its doors from that day dozens of its patients who were mid-treatment were referred to Peter MacCallum Bendigo to continue radiotherapy and other treatments.
It is believed the Peter Mac specialists became concerned some of the patients had been underdosed during radiotherapy at Quality Cancer Care, while other patients were suspected of being overdosed, and notified authorities.
SCV, AHPRA, the Department of Health and the HCC have all launched investigations into the clinic.
The Herald Sun understands investigators are trying to establish who had been administering radiotherapy and whether they were qualified to do so.
It is understood a qualified technician had been responsible for dosing and administering of treatments at the clinic until they left the business, with investigations now trying to determine who had provided radiotherapy and other services since.
The Herald Sun understands health authorities also have concerns about the accuracy or completeness of medical records for thousands of Quality Cancer Care patients.
As well as slapping an interim prohibition order against the Bendigo clinic, Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack yesterday took the further step of issuing an official public warning against Quality Cancer Care.
"The safety of Victorians is my number one priority,' Ms Cusack said.
"As such, I believe it is necessary to impose this interim ban on Quality Cancer Care while our investigation is conducted to avoid a serious risk to the health, safety and welfare of the Victorian public."
A Peter Mac spokesman said its specialists were partnering with Bendigo Health to review all patients from the private clinic, with no out of pocket charges for the consultations.
"It's important that anyone who has concerns about their prior diagnosis or treatment makes an appointment with the Peter Mac and Bendigo Health doctors, so they can be confident they're getting the best care," he said.
Quality Cancer Care's website promises to skin cancer treatments "quick and pain-free over 8 sessions", however calls to the clinic are not currently being answered.
The Herald Sun has been unable to contact Dr Miles, who's online biography states he has more than a decade's experience in specialist radiation oncology services, having trained at the Peter Mac and helping establish the Epworth Radiation Oncology team.
Originally published as Huge bungle in cancer patients' radiation doses