In a series of articles, the Irish Independent underscores that the varying quality of radiologists in detecting breast cancer varies wildly from hospital to hospital is not a uniquely Maryland or American phenomenon. A radiologist investing what appears to be a breast cancer misdiagnosis epidemic in some hospitals in Ireland found after reviewing 3,000 mammograms that the breast cancer misdiagnosis rate at Portlaoise Hospital was six times higher than in the best hospitals in Ireland. Apparently, the breast cancer misdiagnosis rate at this hospital was 6% which is ridiculously high.
This underscores how important it is to have radiologists who know how to properly read mammograms and have equipment that gives you the best possible reading.
The following are a few breast cancer misdiagnosis verdicts and settlements:
- 2019, Baltimore County: $2,582,529 Verdict: A 56-year-old woman died from advanced breast cancer. Four years before her death, she underwent mammogram and ultrasound testing at Advanced Radiology. The radiologist interpreted her results as normal. A year later, she was diagnosed with cancer to her right breast. She then underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. However, her treatment was unsuccessful, and she died three years later. Her estate alleged that the radiologist failed to properly read her mammogram and ultrasound testing from four years prior. They also alleged that this caused a delay in treatment that resulted in her untimely death. The radiologist and Advanced Radiology denied negligence, claiming that she would have died even if she received a breast cancer diagnosis after her initial testing. A Baltimore County jury awarded the estate $2,582,529.
- 2019, New York: $2,225,000 Settlement. A 71-year-old man developed an inverted nipple to his left breast, which was a sign of male breast cancer. He saw two physicians, both of whom ignored this sign. The second one misdiagnosed him with ringworm and prescribed a cream. There appeared to be some improvement, and he did not return until seven months later. During his visit, he underwent a breast exam which showed normal results. A month later, he returned with severe back pain and a blackened nipple. The physician ordered a sonogram and a mammogram which revealed male breast cancer. A radiologist also determined that the cancer spread throughout his spine, his lilac bone, his acetabulum, and his proximal femur. The man suffered a hip fracture, which necessitated hip replacement surgery, and spinal fractures caused by his metastasized cancer. He underwent chemotherapy, Tamoxifen therapy, radiation treatments. The physicians denied liability because they claimed that the man did not take off his shirt during his visits. The man claimed he unbuttoned his shirt during every visit and the written details of his examinations would not have been possible had he left his shirt on. This case settled during jury selection for a total of $2,225,000.
- 2017, New York: $15,000,000 Verdict. A woman alleged that her treating breast surgeon failed to detect a small breast tumor. She presented to the surgeon a year later, with nipple discharge. The surgeon failed to order any further testing, including an MRI. The woman claimed that she would have been diagnosed with stage I breast cancer had she been diagnosed at the time. One year later, she was diagnosed with Stage IIIA breast cancer, involving four lymph nodes. The woman underwent a left mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, and breast reconstruction. Her cancer spread to her vertebrae four years later and advanced to Stage V. The woman contended that the man was not qualified to properly read films, as he did not have the required qualifications under the Mammography Quality Standards Act. Her expert opined that the woman’s condition was incurable and terminal. The jury awarded a $15,000,000 verdict.
- 2016, Massachusetts: $675,000 Settlement. A 50-something woman underwent a mammogram, which revealed microcalcifications. She then underwent a needle biopsy of her left breast. The pathologists’ report noted adenosis and abnormal intraductal hyperplasia but made no mention of the microcalcifications. The woman then found a lump in her left breast thee years later. She underwent diagnostic imaging, which revealed a large mass in the lower part of her left breast. The woman was diagnosed with Grade II breast cancer. She was also told that her lump was too large to be removed and that she would need pre-operative chemotherapy. The woman underwent chemotherapy for 16 weeks, a lumpectomy, and daily radiation. She sued her treating physicians for failing to timely diagnose her breast cancer. The physicians denied liability, claiming that they did not deviate from acceptable standards of care. This case settled for $675,000.
- 2015, Anne Arundel County: $185,000 Verdict. The woman underwent a mammogram and ultrasound after she noticed a mass on her right breast. The radiologist found no evidence of malignancy in the results. However, the radiologist also recommended further investigation of the mass. The woman then saw her OB/GYN multiple times, who failed to recommend additional testing. She eventually received a ductal carcinoma in situ diagnosis to her right breast. This necessitated extensive treatment, including a bilateral mastectomy. She alleged that the treating OB/GYN failed to timely treat and diagnose her breast cancer. The OB/GN contested liability and disputed the injury’s nature and extent caused by the delay in the woman’s breast cancer diagnosis. An Anne Arundel County jury awarded $185,000.