Medical Verdicts

Erroneous breast cancer diagnosis after needle biopsy


<court>Greene County (NY) Supreme Court</court>

A 51-year-old woman underwent a needle biopsy in 1 breast.

A physician reviewed the slide and diagnosed her with poorly differentiated carcinoma and recommended a modified mastectomy.

During surgery, the attending surgeon made an incision of approximately 2 inches and took a frozen section of the tissue. Pathology determined that the mass was benign. The surgeon then removed the mass but did not perform a mastectomy. In suing, the woman contended that the biopsy was read improperly, thus subjecting her to unnecessary surgery under general anesthesia and a 2-inch scar.

The physician maintained that the mass had certain cellular characteristics consistent with cancer that necessitated its removal. A scar, therefore, would have resulted no matter what the needle biopsy indicated.

  • The jury returned a defense verdict.

The cases presented here were compiled by Lewis L. Laska, editor of Medical Malpractice Verdicts, Settlements & Experts. While there are instances when the available information is incomplete, these cases represent the types of clinical situations that typically result in litigation.

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