Saturday, March 14, 2009

A Medical Mishap or Delinquency?

Unbelievable! Was my reaction to The Oprah Winfrey Show on the horrific tale of a woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer and then some.

According to the woman, she was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram, and a biopsy. She then saw a few specialists who examined her, but could not find her cancerous tumor. After numerous meetings and discussions with physicians, fearing that the cancer would spread, a team of physicians decided to perform a mastectomy.

A few days later, devastated, but finally trying to cope with her breast lost, she received a phone call from her doctor insisting that she comes in ASAP. In tears, her doctor announced that she never had cancer. Turns out, her mammography films and diagnostics were switched with someone else’s and no one--including the team of physicians--discovered it until it was too late. Unbelievable!!

I would love to say how important it is to get a second opinion, but, since this woman had several and still wound-up with a ghastly reality, my advice here might be redundant!

Is this a medical mishap or is it downright delinquency? The former would put a wedge between a medical malpractice and a bunch of physicians going to jail. The latter, however, will probably be overlooked, because unless it’s not a case of the infamous Jack Kevorkian, who assisted in terminating the lives of his ailing patients, all involved will probably get off with a slap on the risk.

Apart from the obvious (a major lawsuit), what recourse could this poor woman possibly have from this tragic experience? Perhaps, only one, the strength to move forward with her life and use her story as a cautionary tale to other women.

Copyright © 2009 Denrique Preudhomme


Marc A. Medley said...

She really has no recourse per se; however, she can certainly be an advocate for getting a second or perhaps even third opinion before making that final decision. She can also be an advocate for life after losing a breast or how life does go on after losing a breast. She may even be comfort to those women who actually have cancer and have to have the procedure performed on them. If a woman who did not have cancer can survive losing a breast, then certainly I, who have cancer can live.

This issue again brings the medical and pharmaceutical industries to scrutiny because these are services that are supposed to save lives, yet we constantly push and rush to judgement for surgeries and prescriptive medications that often take or ruin lives. I saw a report on World News Tonight that said many men are advised to take action for prostrate cancer when in many cases it really is not necessary to have a surgical procedure.

Unfortunately when you combine profit AND delinquency, you have a deadly combination. I recommend to your readers that they read the book OUR DAILY MEDS by Melody Peterson. It will open your eyes to the medical and pharmeceutical world.

Monica "Dr. mOe" Anderson said...

Indeed this is tragedy beyond measure by its exponential volume of devastation. I recently was advised to have a second mammogram, following my routine annual one because the doctor saw something suspicious. That has happened to me before but it's always frightening. Luckily, the second mammogram was negative--or was it? A mistake like this can go both ways from misdiagnosis to failure to diagnose. As a healthcare provider, I know our primary charge is to do no harm. The question is what happens when you do cause harm. I certainly think legislation needs to be passed to implement safeguards to avoid the inadvertent mix-up of medical records. That seems to be the origin of this problem. The healthcare community needs to invest as much into the technology of record keeping as we do into researching and administering cures.
What does it profit a patient to have a cure to cancer, if they don't have cancer?