How often do surgical or hospital mishaps happen?

One woman was given unnecessary surgery after her hospital goofed. Another young woman’s doctors failed to find her breast cancer despite the vast symptoms showing that it had been emerging.

What were the results?

Fox reports on the woman’s painful surgery. The woman was falsely diagnosed with cancer due to hospital negligence. Then doctors removed part of her rectum. Later she found out she never had cancer to begin with. She is now suing to have her medical records released.

The woman, whose real name is not being released, went in for a routine colon exam in December. The suit claims that the unfortunate patient’s tissue sample was mixed up with that of a man with rectal cancer. This led to her diagnosis of aggressive cancer and the man went untreated. The woman is a 68-year-old retiree. She said that before her false diagnosis, she had been in good health, exercised regularly and did not take any prescription medications.

The woman told reporters, “I really thought I was dying for many months. I literally had my daughter drive down … from Minnesota for Christmas because we all thought this was probably the last Christmas we would be together.”

She had the surgery to remove part of her rectum in January. Before the surgery, she felt like there were issues with her diagnosis. What did she do about that?

Fox reports, “She had a series of pre-operative biopsies to try to pinpoint the cancer’s location, but they came back negative. After she asked the hospital to double check the lab work, personnel told her that she did have cancer. Following the operation, lab work on the removed tissue showed there had never been any cancer, the suit claims.”

When did the woman’s doctor finally announce that she did not have cancer? In May, she finally received a phone call from her physician saying that DNA testing confirmed there was never cancer present in her body.

The woman described her emotions after the call, “I was euphoric. I felt like a big, heavy shroud had been taken away from me. I've still got the phone message. … I've put the phone away so I won't lose it.”

What did the hospital do to make up for the mistake?

Well clearly the surgery cannot be reversed but the hospital did apologize.

“The suit notes that the hospital failed to provide detailed records documenting the mix-up, which violates federal and state laws. The suit is asking a judge to order the hospital to release the related documents, and to appoint a special master to handle the records,” according to Fox.

In another medical malpractice screw up, Fox news reports on a teen who had a mastectomy.

A teen who felt uncomfortable for two years was finally diagnosed with breast cancer. Doctors originally missed it because they thought she was too young to have it. The young woman initially went to doctors when she was seventeen due to discharge and discomfort in her breast. She was diagnosed with an infection of the milk duct.

After two years of intolerable pain she went to see doctors again. This time she was finally diagnosed with breast cancer. The young woman said “I can’t help but think that if I had been an older lady who had the same symptoms my GP would have thought about cancer. Who knows how much the cancer could have grown in [the two years before the correct diagnosis], I might have been able to keep my breast if it was diagnosed sooner.”

How was she finally treated?

She had to have a mastectomy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment. But doctors say she is expected to make a full recovery soon.

Dr. Verrill, an expert oncologist, told reporters, “Breast cancer in young women is exceptionally rare. The chance of being diagnosed in this age bracket is one in 500,000, with the majority of cases being seen in much older women.” But her case shows that all options need to be weighed and tested for in order to avoid potential tragedies.

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer