St. Francis Hospital Oncologist Fined

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The state Medical Examining Board fined a St. Francis Hospital Cancer Center oncologist $5,000 Tuesday for accidently administering 29 doses of radiation to the left side of a patient’s mouth, when the cancerous mass was on the right side.

Dr. Richard C. Shumway signed a consent order with the state Medical Examining Board, agreeing to the fine and a reprimand.

In October 2006, a patient came to Shumway with a recurrent mass on the bottom right side of his mouth and Shumway recommended a course of radiation therapy directed at the mass and surrounding area. After 29 treatments, “it was discovered that the radiation therapy had been erroneously delivered to the left side of the patient’s mouth, rather than the right side,” the consent order with the state Department of Public Health (DPH) says.

The error was explained to the patient and a “make-up plan” was implemented, Linda Fazzina, DPH staff attorney, told the medical board.

Shumway’s attorney, Richard C. Tynan, of Halloran & Sage in Hartford, said that when his client discovered the error, he immediately brought it to the patient’s attention.

“It’s just amazing to me that [it took] 29 treatments before you realized that you were doing the wrong side,” said board Chair Anne Doremus.

The mistake was discovered when the patient asked why the left side of his mouth was sorer than the right side of his mouth, Tynan said.  While Shumway doesn’t personally administer the treatments, and “there are others who should have picked up this error,” Tynan said, “Dr. Shumway is in charge.”

DPH learned about the incident from Shumway’s malpractice insurance carrier after a settlement was reached, said Fazzina.

Shumway has no prior discipline history with the medical board. Through his attorney, Shumway declined comment.

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