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Girl, 15, given radiation overdose

AN INVESTIGATION is under way at a top cancer hospital today after a teenage patient was given a massive overdose of radiation up to 17 times during treatment.

Lisa Norris, 15, was given the overdoses at the Beatson Oncology Centre in Glasgow, where she was treated for a brain tumour. The hospital has blamed human error for the overdoses.

The effects of the overdoses are not yet known, but the parents of the teenager from Girvan in Ayrshire said doctors had warned that the extra radiation could prove fatal.

Staff at the hospital were said to be extremely distraught over the case. It is understood the girl was given the overdose at each radiation session - a total of 17 times.

Professor Alan Rodger, medical director of Beatson Oncology Centre, said: "Initial meetings have taken place with the girl and her family.

"We will do everything in our power to support both them and their daughter in the challenges ahead."

Lisa began radiation therapy on 5 January, after four blocks of chemotherapy at Yorkhill Hospital. Last Tuesday, staff told her the tumour had gone.

She was said to be celebrating her recovery when consultants came to her home to tell her about the error.

The teenager has developed large sores on her scalp and ears, and is permanently hot and has to take cold showers to cool herself down. Her father Ken, 50, said: "Doctors say at best she could land in a wheelchair or be paralysed, but at worst this could be fatal."

Mr Norris hit out at hospital staff, saying: "If they can do this to Lisa, they can do this to anyone."

A cancer expert said that it would be about three months before the damage to Lisa's body could be assessed. An investigation is now under way.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow said in a statement: "Immediately upon discovering that the patient had been given the radiation overdose an internal investigation was launched and the Scottish Executive health department notified.

"It has been established that no equipment failure was involved.

"Initial findings indicate that the overdose was the result of human error and no other patient treatments were compromised.

"The Scottish Executive health department will now conduct their own full inquiry with the full support and co-operation of NHS Greater Glasgow staff."

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The source of this article is the www.scotsman.com (c) 2006

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