26 more cancer patients received diluted chemo drugs in Ontario
Published Friday, April 12, 2013 1:11PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, April 12, 2013 10:44PM EDT
Twenty-six more cancer patients are learning that they too received watered-down chemotherapy drugs while undergoing treatment at a hospital in London. Ont.
That’s in addition to the more than 1,100 patients in Ontario and New Brunswick who have already been identified.
London Health Sciences Centre announced Friday that the 26 new patients bring the total number of those affected at its facility to 691, including 40 children.
The hospital says the additional patients were identified after administrators conducted a second, more thorough assessment of the hospital’s files.
LHSC says it’s already begun to notify the patients.
"At this time, we have attempted to call all 26 patients and sent letters as well, to express our sincere regret that they, too, are impacted," Neil Johnson, the vice president of Cancer Care for LHSC said in a hospital news release.
"… Our focus continues to be on helping to connect the affected patients to the information and supports they need."
The hospital also announced Friday that at least 117 of the adult patients who were treated with the diluted medications have since died.
But it’s difficult to determine if any of those deaths can be directly attributed to the diluted drugs. The hospital added that other patients may have died but they’re not always notified.
Last week, Ontario’s cancer care agency, Cancer Care Ontario, announced the discovery that two medications purchased by four hospitals in Ontario and one in New Brunswick were mistakenly diluted with too much saline.
The agency said that batches of IV bags containing cyclophosphamide and gemcitabine were mistakenly diluted by as much as 20 per cent.
The patients received the diluted drugs for more than a year before a lab technician in Peterborough, Ont. identified the problem after noticing that some of the IV bags it received contained too much saline.
All five affected hospitals purchased the drugs from the same supplier, whose parent company is now facing at least three lawsuits in the matter.
An independent expert panel is being assembled to review the error and to look at how best to protect patients from similar incidents in the future. The panel is expected to made up of people from the affected hospitals, the College of Pharmacists, Cancer Care Ontario, Health Canada, and the New Brunswick government.