VA Doc Botched 92 of 116 Cancer Operations

Philly prostate patients routinely had treatment placed in wrong organ
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2009 11:32 AM CDT
Investigators say that Dr. Gary Kao botched 92 of 116 cancer treatments over a course of six years.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – The VA Hospital in Philadelphia performed 116 operations to treat prostate cancer before an investigation found that 92 of the them had been seriously botched, the New York Times reports. The VA considered Dr. Gary Kao an expert who didn't need oversight, and allowed him to cover up his mistakes without consequences.

When Kao accidentally implanted 40 radioactive "seeds" into a patient's bladder instead of his prostate, he re-wrote his surgical plan to conform to the flawed procedure. When that same patient then needed more radiation, another mistake led to dangerous radiation in his rectum. Now, investigators are scrambling to figure out why no one noticed the sub-par work long ago.