A Philadelphia doctor, who has been accused of botching dozens of prostate cancer surgeries at a Veterans Administration hospital, admitted Monday that he sometimes missed his target when implanting radioactive seeds, leaving patients with incorrect dosages.Dr. Gary Kao said these mistakes are commonplace when you are aiming seeds at the walnut-sized prostate, which sits near the bladder and rectum. In a statement made by Kao, he stated, “I did not believe our procedures were botched. I’ve always acted in the best interest of the patient. I refuse to become a scapegoat for the scandal at the VA Medical Center.” After being questioned by Senator Arlen Specter, Kao acknowledged that he never informed patients when he missed the prostate or delivered insufficient doses. However, he maintains that the mistakes did not necessarily amount to substandard care.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has found that 92 of 115 men treated in the brachytherapy program at the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia received incorrect doses of the radiation seeds, often because they landed in nearby organs or tissue surrounding the prostate. Kao performed the majority of these procedures while under a contract with the University of Pennsylvania.
The brachytherapy program at the VA Medical Center has been suspended. A review of 12 other VA hospitals where the procedure is performed showed a handful of problems, but none on the same magnitude as the VA Medical Center in Philadelphia.
Kao has stopped performing the surgeries and last week took a leave from the University of Pennsylvania.
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