Cancer trial patient dies after hospital computer system error

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mr. Foster suffered from testicular cancer

Gary Foster, a British cancer patient, has died after a hospital computer error. The twenty-seven-year-old was undergoing a trial at the University College London Hospital when an apparent computer system error led to him repeatedly receiving double the amount of chemotherapy needed.

Foster had been treated for testicular cancer since June. He had improved temporarily after the overdose but died due to drug toxicity. Another patient suffered an overdose during the trial but survived.

Gary Foster was engaged, with wedding plans this month. He had been working as a graphic designer when he was diagnosed with cancer and a sixty percent survival rate. According to his fiancée, Paula Collins, the couple had been relieved to be included in drug trials as they had been told his chances of survival would increase. He had slowly received the overdoses over a period of four months. His mother said he had been "slowly poisoned."

University College London Hospital reviewed its procedures and has made sufficient changes for future patient safety. The lesson it has learned, hospital officials stated, was to include "a second separate check by senior pharmacy staff … for every patient before repeated doses are given." Suspected overdoses were reported through written letters, which hospital staff left unopened for two days.

While a coroner's report is in progress, investigators said the drug had not directly caused Foster's death despite his health deteriorating after the overdoses began.