Misdiagnosis Forced Patient to Undergo Double Mastectomy

A judge in Louisiana awarded a woman close to $ 1 million for damages and future medical expenses in a case involving cancer misdiagnosis that led to a needless mastectomy. It was a pathologist’s alleged misdiagnosis of a biopsy that caused the problem.

Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm sympathize with the woman for her undeserved pain and suffering that resulted from the misdiagnosis and consequent mastectomy.

Court records reveal that a reappearing lump in the woman’s left breast led her to undergo a needle core biopsy at a Louisiana hospital in 2006. The pathologist made a misdiagnosis of ductal carcinoma grade I with respect to the biopsied tissue. Following the diagnosis, a modified radical mastectomy was performed on the patient.

A post-operative analysis of tissue sampled while the surgery was in progress revealed no infiltrating ductal carcinoma. A second evaluation by an external pathology service found no such problem either in the surgical samples or in the biopsy.

A state medical review panel collectively agreed that both the pathologist and the Louisiana hospital fell short of meeting appropriate standards of care.

The woman sued both the pathologist and the state of Louisiana. Her attorneys blamed the defendants for negligence with regard to the patient’s treatment, care and supervision. About two months after a non-jury trial, the judge ruled in the patient’s favor.

Earlier this year, ABC NEWS revealed that a woman who not only underwent debilitating chemotherapy following a cancer misdiagnosis, but also a hysterectomy. Though the woman was compensated for her suffering, she will never be able to be a mother.

The woman’s torment started when she went to consult the doctor about irregular bleeding. A sample of the woman’s blood was tested with the Abbott Laboratories’ Axsym BHCG routine pregnancy test. This blood pregnancy test is one of the most common tests used in the U.S.

The results that were returned were positive, indicating that the woman was pregnant. However, the doctor could not locate any fetus. More Axsym pregnancy tests were performed and all came back positive. Still, there was no sign that the woman was pregnant.

High levels of the HCG (beta human chorionic gonadotropin) hormone either indicate pregnancy or gestational trophoblastic tumor – an uncommon kind of cancer. This cancer is curable if chemotherapy treatment is administered early on. However, if left untreated, the cancer may spread quickly and even kill the person.

The woman was referred to a cancer specialist at a Seattle hospital for more comprehensive tests. Though scans did not indicate the presence of a tumor, the woman’s HCG level was still distressingly high. Physicians diagnosed her with cancer and she was started on chemotherapy right away.

Despite undergoing debilitating chemotherapy for months, the woman’s HCG levels as tested with the Abbott test, continued to be on the high side, staying between 250 and 350. The normal level is below five. She was informed that a hysterectomy was necessary.

Though the woman was unhappy about giving away her chance to be a mother, she felt that if she underwent the surgery, she would avoid death.

Tissue samples collected following the hysterectomy showed no sign of cancer. The woman’s HCG levels fell and then soared again. After that, doctors noticed two suspicious marks on her lung scan and consequently, she underwent additional surgery. Her HCG levels were still not going down and yet the doctors didn’t see any cancer.

After going through all of this trauma, the woman got the shocking news that she didn’t have cancer in the first place.

False positive results in Abbott’s Axsym test are not rare occurrences. A Yale University researcher who published an article pertaining to cancer misdiagnoses in women based on erroneous pregnancy tests, had discovered 34 cases of false positive pregnancy tests.

Abbott contended that the FDA approved the test as a pregnancy test and not as a test to diagnose cancer. They also claimed the HCG tests of other manufacturers were as susceptible to false positives as their test was. However, the harm done to the woman is irreparable.

The woman was awarded over $16 million, half of which was to be paid by Abbott and the other half by the hospital.

If you or a loved one was victimized by a false diagnosis of any type, contact a medical malpractice lawyer immediately who can help you obtain compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages.

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