Contemporary SurgeryMALPRACTICE MINUTE
Ductal carcinoma diagnosed205
11 months after negative biopsy
A 32-year-old woman had a stereotactic biopsy of breast microcalcifications that were negative for malignancy.
The breast lump continued to grow, and the patient had another biopsy 11 months later. This time, the biopsy was positive for stage-II invasive ductal carcinoma with lymph-node involvement. She underwent both chemotherapy and radiation therapy, leaving her with breast scars and limited arm mobility.
The delay in treatment caused a reduction in life expectancy. The first biopsy was inadequate because it only sampled the microcalcifications, not the palpable mass, leading to the defendant’s misdiagnosis.
The palpable mass and microcalcifications were in the same region, and the latter were biopsied based on a radiological consult.
Case excerpted from Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements and Experts, with permission of the editor, Lewis Laska, Nashville, TN (www.verdictslaska.com).
Answer to April’s MALPRACTICE MINUTE:
Psychosomatic pain or unnecessary surgery?
ONLINE POLL: liable, 17%; not liable, 83%
VERDICT: The court found the surgeon not liable.