There is the possibility that 223 patients who sought treatment at the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre could be exposed to potential late effects of irradiation after the wrong calibration was administered.An investigation into the clinical and calibration procedures of a linear accelerator, relating to a suspected radiation dose incident at the centre, was conducted by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The PAHO clinical findings, in a report submitted in September last year, showed the centre's radiation oncologist acknowledged the centre was aware of the possible calibration discrepancy prior to a visit by PAHO's officials.It added no record of any action was taken by the centre to notify any patient of the possible mis-administration.Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan, at a press conference at his ministry's Park Street offices, Port-of-Spain, yesterday, said in June 2010 a certified medical physicist complained of a possible miscalibration of a linear accelerator at the centre.Khan said on receipt of that complaint the ministry engaged PAHO's assistance.
He said: "In September 2010, the PAHO radiation protection and safety team investigated a miscalibration and concluded that there was a miscalibration of a linear accelerator over a period of approximately 12 months, ranging from approximately four per cent to 20 per cent of over-radiation."Khan said several recommendations were made to the ministry which included formally writing the centre's management to follow up on "223 possibly exposed patients" and to enact legislation to regulate the operations of radiation therapy facilities.The centre is a member of the MedCorp Group whose chairman is Dr Kongsheik Achong Low.He is currently out of the country and efforts to contact him on his mobile phone proved futile.
The report was submitted by Carlos A Perez, MD, and Jose Francisco Aguirre and revised by PAHO's regional adviser in radiological health Pablo Jimenez.The report stated Perez reviewed the records of patients treated between December 2008 to June 2010.It said patients treated for head and neck, breast and prostate were selected for review of medical records because they had higher prescribed doses and were at a possibly greater risk.Popular bar owner Ricardo "Smokey" Mc Kenzie, whowas seeking treatment at the centre, died last year following numerous tests performed locally and abroad.His wife, Lisa, had called on the authorities to make the PAHO report public.
Khan urged patients treated within the period to contact the centre.He said: "We hope the 223 patients, if they have not yet been contacted by the Brain Lara Cancer Centre in that period, should do so and get whatever checks needed to determine whether or not there was any over-exposure or any mal-affects from that radiation."Chief medical officer Dr Anton Cumberbatch said the centre was instructed to contact patients and that the ministry was monitoring the situation.He said: "When you get exposed to radiation, the question of monitoring patients extends from a period of three to five years, so it is possible that for the immediate first year or six months, there may not be any symptoms at all."One matter is currently before the court.