Mammogram interpretations botched at Arlington, Texas hospital

 

Up to 4,000 patients may have gotten the wrong results for their mammograms

 
November 10, 2017

As a Houston, Texas medical malpractice attorney, I have handled cases involving patients who suffered serious injury or death as a result of cancer misdiagnosis.

One of the most popular cancer-screening tests is the mammogram. Mammograms are specialized x-rays of the breasts that, when done properly, allow early detection of cancer-related abnormalities.

American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer recommend that women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. Women ages 45-54 should get mammograms every year. Women ages 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years, or could continue with yearly screening.

Breast cancer is common, so mammography is an important preventative measure. Experts have said that, in America, there is a new case of breast cancer diagnosed every two minutes and a woman dies from the condition every 13 minutes.

Having a mammogram at the recommended intervals improves patient safety and treatment options, because it allows early detection of cancer. Oncologists uniformly say that the earlier a cancer is detected and treated, the better the likelihood for recovery.

Texas mammography problem

I was alarmed to learn recently that a Texas hospital was found to have a pattern of generating misinterpreted or misread mammograms.

Recently, the American College of Radiology discovered that the John Peter Smith Hospital’s Southeast Tarrant facility had a significant problem in misinterpreting mammograms. The facility in question is located at 1050 W. Arkansas Lane, and Arlington, Texas.

The Texas Department of Health and Human Services revealed that the College reviewed 30 cases performed at the hospital between 2015-2017. Of those randomly-reviewed mammograms, 18 of them did not meet clinical image evaluation criteria and failed the Advanced Mammography Review with deficiencies, some of which were severe.

In a rare rebuke of a hospital facility, the State of Texas said that this hospital’s problem of incorrectly interpreting mammograms “poses a serious risk to human health.” Up to 4,000 patients might be affected and require another mammogram.

Following these findings, on June 6, 2017, the facility suspended mammography services at that location.

Unfortunately, the hospital chose not to notify those patients until September 1, 2017, when it sent a certified letter to them. In addition, the hospital informed 200 referring physicians about this problem. A hospital spokesman said that, so far, the hospital has been unable to reach hundreds of patients.

Hopefully, no one who received a botched mammogram result will go untreated and have serious consequences. Unfortunately, though, if that happens, any claims against John Peter Smith Hospital for medical negligence will be extremely difficult to pursue, because of the provisions of the Texas Tort Claims Act. Tarrant County Hospital District owns and operates hospitals in the John Peter Smith Hospital system.

At public hospitals in Texas, a medical negligence lawsuit against a hospital or employee for misinterpreting a mammogram, or any other diagnostic procedure, would be barred because the acts in questions did not involve the use of tangible personal property. In other words, the mental process of reviewing a medical record or diagnostic image does not trigger the very restrictive provisions of the Tort Claims Act. You can read my article about these tough, anti-patient public hospital rules here.

While there are certainly some public hospitals in Texas that provide good care, in my experience, in many public facilities the care is shockingly inadequate. Medicare and Medicaid surveyor inspections of the John Peter Smith Health Network, based in Fort Worth, resulted in 24 violations in from 2011-2016.

We are here to help

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as a result of mammography, cancer, or other misdiagnosis or medical malpractice, call Painter Law Firm, in Houston, Texas, at 281-580-8800, for free consultation about your potential case.

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Robert Painter is a former hospital administrator and medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC, in Houston, Texas. He represents patients and their families in medical negligence and wrongful death lawsuits against hospitals, doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other healthcare providers. He is a frequent speaker and author on topics related to medical malpractice. He is a current member of the board of editors of the Texas Bar Journal and is a former editor-in-chief of The Houston Lawyer magazine.

Robert Painter

Robert Painter is a medical malpractice lawyer at Painter Law Firm PLLC.

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