amputates 2 healthy breasts in error
apologized for a laboratory mistake that resulted in the amputation
of a healthy woman's breasts after she was mistakenly told she had an
aggressive form of cancer.
Dr. Daniel Foley, medical director of United Hospital, told KARE-TV
in the Twin Cities that the St. Paul hospital had made changes so "this
kind of mixup would never happen again."
Linda McDougal, 46, said she was diagnosed with cancer in May 2002 after
her doctor had a biopsy performed when a suspicious spot appeared on
McDougal said she was told the cancer was so aggressive that a double
mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation were her only chances for survival.
In June, she had the surgery.
Two days later, she was recovering when her doctor visited. "She
had bad news," McDougal said. "She didn't know how to tell
us other than to just tell us, and immediately I thought I was dying,
and she told me I didn't have cancer."
After finding no malignancy in the amputated breast tissue, McDougal
said her doctor discovered a mistake in United's laboratory. Tissue
from McDougal's biopsy was switched with tissue from another woman.
Foley said the woman who actually had the cancer has been contacted
and treated. He would not identify the pathologist at fault, but said
the doctor remains with United.
"If you're right 99.9999 percent of the time, you don't want to
be that .01 percent because the consequences are serious and we have
to be right 100 percent of the time," Foley said.
McDougal said she is fighting several infections and must still undergo
several reconstructive surgeries.
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