Patient Does Not Recieve Treatment After Suspicious Mammogram Findings

    MamogramThis case takes place in North Dakota and involves a delayed diagnosis in breast cancer. The patient, a female in her mid-sixties, had a mammogram with suspicious findings, so it was recommended that she undergo further workup for possible malignancy. However, the patient was not notified of these findings, and no further workup was done. Fourteen months went by after the initial imaging was done before the patient received appropriate follow-up. The patient underwent a second mammogram which revealed that she had an aggressive tumor. The initial mammogram had revealed tumor of 1 cm or less in size. Fourteen months later, there appeared to be three tumors one of which was over 3 cm.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. Do you perform and interpret mammograms? If so, how often?
    • 2. What is the protocol for follow-up of a suspicious mammogram?
    • 3. Could a 14 month delay significantly worsen the outcome for a patient with breast cancer?

    Expert Witness Response E-007325

    I interpret approximately 5000 mammograms per year. The interpreting radiologist and facility have a federally mandated responsibility to inform the patient of their results. The failure to notify the patient of suspicious findings on her mammogram and subsequent delay in diagnosis constitute a breach of the standard of care. Furthermore, a 14 month delay in diagnosis is likely to have resulted in a larger tumor at a more advanced stage at the time of diagnosis, which is well known to be associated with a worse prognostic outcome.

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