Whether you have been diagnosed with cancer or a friend or family member has been diagnosed, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness often arise. When one receives a diagnosis, there is little one can do but trust in the advice of their oncologist. It is for this reason that patients affected by the under-dosing of chemotherapy at St Vincent’s Hospital feel such a deep sense of betrayal. They trusted their oncologist to prescribe the recommended dose of chemotherapy only to allegedly receive less than the recommended dose. Sadly, many of those affected patients have experienced relapses in their cancer and at least two people have lost their lives.
While the scandal was first reported by the ABC’s 7:30 Report in February 2016, recent reports indicate it to be much worse than first thought. In late-November 2016, Toby Hall, the St Vincent’s Hospital group chief executive apologised to a NSW parliamentary inquiry for the unsatisfactory response by St Vincent’s Hospital into the scandal. He admitted that the hospital “underestimated the seriousness of the situation that was facing us” and conceded that the review into the under-dosing, which was overseen by an inexperienced doctor, “should have been handled by a more senior clinician”.
Unfortunately, with a proper review now finally having been conducted, the true scope of the scandal is beginning to emerge. At least 129 cancer patients have been found to have received less than the clinically recommended dose of chemotherapy at St Vincent’s Hospital. Worse still, a historical review of the chemotherapy doses prescribed by the oncologist at the head of the scandal, Dr John Grygiel, has found that more than two dozen patients in Bathurst, Orange, Cowra, Parkes and Dubbo were given less than the clinically recommended dose of chemotherapy.
What this scandal demonstrates is not only a failing on the part of the oncologist in question but the seemingly deficient practices and procedures employed in hospitals across New South Wales to detect and appropriately respond to departures from accepted standards of care employed by individual clinicians. It is departures of this nature that all too often result in tragic outcomes.
At Turner Freeman we have lawyers who specialise in medical negligence claims. If you or someone you know has suffered from medical treatment which you believe was not appropriate, we encourage you to call 13 43 63 to speak with one of our medical law experts today.