KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Doctor Testifies About Botched Prostate Treatment At VA Hospital

Dr. Gary D. Kao testified Monday about botched prostate cancer treatment he gave to patients at a Veterans Affairs hospital run by the University of Pennsylvania. The New York Times reports: "The radiation oncologist whom regulators accuse of mishandling scores of radioactive seed implants at the Philadelphia veterans' hospital told a Congressional panel on Monday that while he 'could have done better' with some implants, his patients over all received effective treatment for their prostrate cancer."

The New York Times reports that Kao "said he was voluntarily appearing before the committee, led by Senator Arlen Spector Democrat of Pennsylvania, to 'correct some very serious false allegations in recent publications about me, most notably The New York Times.' The Times reported last week that investigators for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and V.A. officials had identified Dr. Kao as the doctor who did all but a handful of what they said were 92 substandard seed implants out of 116 cases over more than six years. In some cases, most of the tiny metal seeds ended up in other organs. An N.R.C. consultant reviewed about a quarter of the flawed implants and concluded that 'erratic seed placement caused a number of cases to have elevated doses to the rectum, bladder or perineum.' The Times's examination of the prostate cancer unit at the hospital also found that the errors resulted from a systemwide regulatory failure, in which none of the safeguards intended to protect veterans from poor medical care had worked" (Bogdanich, 6/29).

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