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Canadian Woman's Breast Removed in Error

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Windsor, ONIt was an error of profound proportions: this past fall a woman underwent an unnecessary mastectomy in Canada after the surgeon misread a biopsy report. Under the mistaken belief that the woman's breast was cancerous, Dr. Barbara Heartwell went ahead and removed it in a surgical procedure.

As of February 18 the patient had not launched legal action, nor had she contacted the hospital where the error occurred. According to a 2/18/10 report from the Canadian Press (CP), the Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor first heard about the error through a media report and has since been reaching out to the patient, offering support and counseling, along with an offer to assist with any further medical procedures.

Dr. Art Kidd, Chief of Staff at the hospital when the error occurred in fall 2009, indicated that even though Dr. Heartwell has successfully treated thousands of breast cancer patients in the Windsor area, there is no indication that the error lay with the hospital. "This would appear to be a human error by one individual," Dr. Kidd told a reporter from CP. ''The error that occurred here was identified by Dr. Heartwell as her own error, she misread the report.''

Following a needle biopsy on the patient, Dr. Heartwell suspected cancer and recommended removal of the breast, which she performed during the ensuing surgery for a mastectomy. Dr. Heartwell later found that she had misread the results of the biopsy and that the patient didn't have cancer after all.

The hospital, in a press release issued February 17, described Dr. Heartwell as a "well-known and highly respected surgeon." She will continue to practice, but another physician will read her pathology reports until the hospital completes its investigation.

The hospital has alerted its legal representatives and insurance provider, which Dr. Kidd indicated is standard procedure in such cases. So far the hospital has not offered the patient any financial compensation for her loss.

Windsor is located just across the river from Detroit, Michigan, in southwestern Ontario.



Posted by

My heart goes out to this woman !! I can honestly say I know what she is going through ! I had a lump in my right breast which kept on growing. After telling the surgeon in Spain ( I,m British ) I wanted the lump removed because it kept on growing. He said I needed a profilactic mastectomy on both my breasts, a scan had been carried out !! But at no moment was I sat down and told I did not have breast cancer. I entered surgery thinking that I did. My partner who is Spanish also spoke in private with the surgeon , who never declared that I didn,t have cancer ! I have been left completely disfigured, in constant pain, the reconstruction was a complete disaster. I have an incapacity pension of around 180 euros a month. Well if it wasn,t for my partner, I,d have to return to England because I couldn,t afford to feed my two children. Now I,m suing for compensation, and the doctor says I knew I didn,t have cancer. A lot of questions to be answered here!! I just hope this lady hasn,t been left in constant pain, like me !!!


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