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Varian Linear Accelerator Lawsuit

Varian Linear Accelerator Lawsuit

In the last decade, improper use of a Varian linear accelerator during radiation therapy for cancer has resulted in many severe, life-threatening injuries and deaths.

What You Can Do & How a Lawsuit Can Help

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Varian linear accelerator induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know was diagnosed with a radiation overdose, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Defective Medical Device Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

Varian Linear Accelerator Radiation Overdose Victim Awarded $15 Million

September 2013 — The family of a Hawaii man who was severely injured by a radiation overdose while seeking treatment for lung cancer has been awarded $15 million, Insurance Journal reported.

Zacarias Chichioco Jr. received about 2.5-times the appropriate dose of radiation during the first 21 out of 35 treatments at a hospital in Hawaii.

Chichioco was being treated with a Varian linear accelerator that was programmed improperly. According to the lawsuit, Varian knew about the software error and issued an update, but failed to provide adequate instructions to his doctors.

Chichioco rapidly developed a number of debilitating side effects after the radiation overdose — hearing loss, facial paralysis, painful swallowing, hallucinations, and skin damage that required painful grafting surgeries. The symptoms were so severe that he stopped seeking treatment and died of lung cancer, his family said.

What is the Varian Linear Accelerator?

Linear accelerators are essential medical devices in the treatment of cancer. Without actually using radioactive material, they are typically used to deliver dozens of low-dose radiation treatments during standard radiation therapy.

In recent years, Varian Medical Systems and its frequent partner, Brainlab, have modified linear accelerators to perform stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS).

Unlike standard radiation therapy, SRS uses a single dose of high-powered radiation in a narrow beam. It is used to target tiny tumors in sensitive areas of the body, such as the brain and spinal cord. For these reasons, it is extremely important that every dose is accurate.

What is the problem?

Radiation OverdoseIn recent years, many people have been severely injured or died from radiation overdoses involving Varian linear accelerators that were retrofitted with a “mix and match” cylindrical assembly to perform SRS.

The assembly — called a cone — concentrates the radiation for a more precise treatment. Unfortunately, because the beams are so intense, even minor errors can cause severe injury or death.

The New York Times warns:

“As the devices became more versatile and complex, problems arose when vital electronic components could not communicate with one another.”

According to the Times, Varian linear accelerators were linked to “scores of errors and overdoses.” For example, 76 patients in Missouri were over-irradiated because a technician did not know how to properly calibrate the linear accelerator with a cone attachment.

In another case, the Times reported that a 43 year-old man with tongue cancer was over-irradiated three times at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, leaving him deaf, burned, unable to swallow, nauseated, in severe pain, and finally unable to breathe.

In another case, a 32 year-old breast cancer patient had a hole burned into her chest by a linear accelerator that was used improperly. Since 2005, hundreds of people with cancer have been over-irradiated after receiving treatments with linear accelerators that were programmed incorrectly.

Radiation Overdose Symptoms

Symptoms of radiation sickness depend on the part of the body that was over-irradiated. According to the National Institute of Health, the symptoms of an overdose may include:

  • Bleeding from the nose, mouth, gums, and rectum
  • Bloody stool
  • Bruising
  • Confusion
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation of exposed areas
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Open sores
  • Skin burns and sloughing
  • Ulcers in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines
  • Vomiting blood
  • Weakness

Do I have a Varian Linear Accelerator Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting Varian linear accelerator induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know was diagnosed with a radiation overdose, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Defective Medical Device Litigation Group or call us toll-free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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