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Toowoomba chemotherapy review confirms patients received correct care

Queensland Health today released the findings of a further independent review of the chemotherapy dosing protocol at Toowoomba Hospital, which confirms the 10 affected patients received appropriate treatment.

Deputy Director General, Queensland Health’s Clinical Excellence Division, Dr John Wakefield said the review was conducted by two independent lung cancer specialists.

“This independent review has confirmed that Toowoomba Hospital caused no harm to any patients,” Dr Wakefield said.

“In fact, it identified the dosing protocol was consistent with a treatment regimen endorsed by the London Lung Cancer Group, a leading medical research body."

“The results of the review are consistent with the results of the original clinical audit which was finalised in early June which also indicated there was no harm to any patients.

“It is important for the community to appreciate that a protocol is a baseline.

“Specialists frequently adjust protocols to address individual patient requirements which includes liver and kidney function, and tolerance.

“Every person responds differently to chemotherapy and that's why we have experts to personalise care for the best outcome.”

Queensland Health ordered the review after it was revealed that Toowoomba Hospital’s chemotherapy protocol for palliative care patients with small cell lung cancer had been at variance with the national protocol (eviQ) since 2009.

Ten patients at the hospital were given doses of Etoposide on days two and three of their treatment that were lower than those recommended under the eviQ protocol, which is used by all other Hospital and Health Services in Queensland.

The initial audit by the Statewide Cancer Clinical Network found no harm was caused to any patient with small cell lung cancer and that many of these patients were unable to tolerate the eviQ dosage.

Toowoomba Hospital is now using the eviQ protocol to treat palliative small cell cancer.

Dr Wakefield said the independent review was necessary to ensure patients had received the appropriate treatment.

“The family members of eight patients who have died, along with a patient who continues to receive treatment for cancer at Toowoomba Hospital, have been informed of the review’s findings,” said Dr Wakefield.  

Queensland Health has been unable to contact the family of one deceased patient.

The review report can be read here (PDF 119kB).

Media contact: +61 7 3708 5376

Last updated: 21 July 2017