Cancer patients 'under dosed' during chemotherapy
TEN cancer patients were given lower than recommended doses of chemotherapy at a Queensland hospital in a secret scandal that has been going on for eight years.
The Courier-Mail revealed Toowoomba Hospital had been giving patients with an aggressive form of lung cancer a half dose of an oral chemotherapy drug since 2009.
Although Queensland Health was advised of the underdosing on May 25, no families have been informed.
An emergency review, sparked after a chance discovery by a researcher who alerted Queensland Health, found 47 advanced small cell lung cancer patients were being treated outside the medical protocol used by every other public hospital in the state.
Thirty-seven of them were too sick to tolerate even the lower dose.
Accusations of cover up
LNP spokesman for health John-Paul Langbroek accused the government of a cover up following the revelations.
"Labor's Health Minister is trying to cover up the fact that 10 people potentially died after not being given the correct chemotherapy dosage.
"Families have a right to know if the treatment of their loved one went wrong.
"It is outrageous that this 'do-nothing' Labor Government would try to hide the facts from families who have suffered these terrible losses.
"Labor has form for cover-up in health, first it was the Rockhampton Maternity review, then the Moorooka bus incident report and now this scandal.
"Queensland patients and their families have a right to know if the treatment they received was not up to national standards.
"The fact that Queensland Health has now put Toowoomba on the National Standard is an acknowledgement that the previous flawed approach was wrong.
"People have died and their families deserve answers.
"Only the LNP will provide a better health system that is open and accountable."
The Chronicle has contacted the Department of Health for comment.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick will speak to media on the issue outside Toowoomba Hospital at 12.30pm
Statement from Cancer Council Queensland CEO
Cancer Council Queensland has defended the process followed by Queensland Health in relation to the reported underdosage of 10 patients at Toowoomba Base Hospital in 2009.
Cancer Council Queensland chief executive officer Ms Chris McMillan said the ten families involved were Cancer Council's foremost priority in the wake of the revelations.
"The wellbeing of these ten families, and other Queenslanders affected by cancer, is our first and highest priority today," Ms McMillan said.
"We will work with those concerned to ensure due process has been fully followed and that the families involved have been given utmost consideration, and treated with care and compassion.
"As a matter of priority, we expect that the families involved will be provided with the full details surrounding this situation over coming days and offered every support in coping with this news.
"Based on the information made available to Cancer Council Queensland late last night, it appears that due process was followed, both by the clinicians involved in determining patient dosages, and by Queensland Health in immediately investigating this notification late last week and over the weekend.
"We have every confidence in the way in which this issue was handled.
"We have been informed that an initial audit by expert clinical authorities has demonstrated that the clinicians involved acted knowingly, dutifully, and in the best interests of their patients, and no patients were harmed.
"We now await the findings and any recommendations arising from a second expert review of the evidence and will comment in due course.
"I once again stress, our thoughts are with the ten families affected by this - we call for their privacy to be respected and offer our full support to them as they endeavour to cope with this distressing story.
"We will continue our advocacy for all Queenslanders, all cancers."