A total of 254 patients at a state-run hospital in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, were administered radiation doses in excess of the amount prescribed by doctors over a seven-year period between 1988 and 1999, according to government and hospital officials.

The National Hirosaki Hospital said one radiologist, a man in his late 40s, was responsible for the errors and it will set up a panel to investigate the matter. The panel will include external experts, the hospital said.

The hospital, which reported the matter to the Aomori Prefectural Government and Aomori Prefectural Police, said Friday that it plans to contact all patients who received excessive radiation to find out whether they are suffering any side effects.

The hospital has contacted about 30 patients so far, and believes at least seven have developed side effects, including breast deformities and rib fractures.

The incident is believed to be the largest single case in Japan involving excessive radiation administered at a hospital.

The incident was brought to light when the hospital checked the medical records of a patient who developed rectal inflammation, a suspected side effect of radiation. The patient needed an operation to install an artificial anus, while the records reveled he had received excessive radiation from a high-energy linear accelerator device in 1997, when he was treated for prostate cancer.

The hospital believes that the amount of radiation administered to the 254 patients in a total of 327 procedures was between 1.11 and 1.28 times in excess of the dosage ordered by doctors.

The procedures were carried out between July 1988 and March 1991 and between April 1995 and October 1999. The technician was not performing radiation duties between April 1991 and March 1995.

The hospital said doctors had not checked whether the radiologist made the right calculations in administering the radiation dosage.

“The doctors should have been more careful,” the hospital said.

Toranomon Hospital in Tokyo administered excessive radiation doses to 23 patients between 1999 and 2000. Seven patients developed sore throats and other side effects.

In another case, 12 patients at Kanazawa University Hospital, in Ishikawa Prefecture, received excessive radiation doses between 2000 and 2002. One patient developed serious side effects.

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