Twenty-Six Unnecessary Radiation Treatments on the Wrong Side

What is an otolaryngologist? These professionals are trained in the medical and surgical management and treatment of patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, throat, and related structures of the head and neck. They are commonly referred to as ENT physicians. Their specialized skills include diagnosing and managing diseases of the sinuses, larynx, oral cavity, and upper pharynx (mouth and throat), as well as structures of the neck and face.

The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery describes the otolaryngologist’s areas of expertise.

The Ears — Hearing loss affects one in ten North Americans. The unique domain of otolaryngologists is the treatment of ear disorders. They are trained in both the medical and surgical treatment of hearing, ear infections, balance disorders, ear noise (tinnitus), nerve pain, and facial and cranial nerve disorders. Otolaryngologists also manage congenital (birth) disorders of the outer and inner ear.

The Nose — About 35 million people develop chronic sinusitis each year, making it one of the most common health complaints in America. Care of the nasal cavity and sinuses is one of the primary skills of otolaryngologists. Management of the nasal area includes allergies and sense of smell. Breathing through, and the appearance of, the nose are also part of otolaryngologists’ expertise.

The Throat — Communicating (speech and singing) and eating a meal all involve this vital area. Also specific to otolaryngologists is expertise in managing diseases of the larynx (voice box) and the upper aero-digestive tract or esophagus, including voice and swallowing disorders.

The Head and Neck — This center of the body includes the important nerves that control sight, smell, hearing, and the face. In the head and neck area, otolaryngologists are trained to treat infectious diseases, both benign and malignant (cancerous) tumors, facial trauma, and deformities of the face. They perform both cosmetic plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Allegations of medical negligence against ENTs may arise following treatment for head and neck cancer, as well as complications of surgical procedures such as tonsillectomy, tracheostomy, and thyroidectomy.

In February 2015, Pennsylvania resident Kathleen Astleford’s family physician referred her to an ENT specialist at Delta Medix for an evaluation of her throat. A physician at Delta performed a biopsy of Astleford’s right tonsil which revealed squamous cell carcinoma. She was referred to Dr. Andrew Turrrisi who ordered radiation treatments.

Astleford wore protection during radiation which limited her view of the treatments. When she developed sores on the left side of her mouth and tongue, she questioned Dr. Turrisi because the cancer had been found in her right tonsil. After twenty-six unnecessary radiation treatments on the wrong side of her tonsils, he admitted his mistake and performed 17 radiation treatments on the correct side. Astleford was not told of the risk involved in a total of 43 radiation sessions. Finally, she had surgery that removed part of her tongue and left her unable to swallow properly. The case is Astleford v. Delta Medix, P.C., Delta Medix, P.C. t/a The Center for Comprehensive Cancer Care and Dr. Andrew Turrisi, M.D., 15-CV-5134 (C.P. Lackawanna County.Co. 2016 Gibbons, J.).   

Litigation against an ENT physician requires consultation from an otolaryngologist expert witness who specializes in this area of medicine. These experts are knowledgeable and experienced in ENT clinical practice guidelines and can use these benchmarks to assist them in evaluating whether proper treatment decisions or methods of care were followed. Contact ELITE Medical Experts to be connected with the most accomplished, unbiased, and persuasive medical expert witness for your case.

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