Receiving news of a cancer diagnosis is distressing. Darrie Eason, a single mother from Long Island, NY was diagnosed with an invasive form of breast cancer in 2006. After having a double mastectomy, she found out she never had cancer at all. The lab that handled her biopsy was responsible for this error, and she retained a medical malpractice attorney who helped her recover compensation for this devastating medical mistake.
Misdiagnosis After a Second Opinion
Before undergoing treatment, Darrie consulted another physician for a second opinion and was again misdiagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, this doctor used the information from the same mislabeled biopsy sample, which belonged to another woman. After receiving the second opinion, she opted to have both breasts removed and underwent the first phase of reconstructive surgery.
The next step was chemotherapy. However, before she started this phase of treatment, the surgeon who had sent the removed breast tissue to the lab contacted her with shocking news: she didn’t have cancer. When asked how she felt when she found out her breasts were removed for no reason, she simply said, “You can’t even explain it.” This development also meant that the woman whose sample had been switched had globular breast cancer and had been misdiagnosed as being cancer-free.
How Did This Happen?
The New York State Department of Health investigated the lab that handled her biopsy samples, CBL Path medical laboratory. Its report stated that the likely source of the error was not a system breakdown but the lab technician engaging in a practice called batching. This process involves handling more than one tissue sample at a time. However, Steven Pegalis, Darrie’s medical malpractice attorney, wasn’t convinced. He found it hard to believe that it was a one-time event that occurred because of an individual’s carelessness.
Another issue this tragedy brought to light is the importance of patients asking for an additional lab report on tissue samples when seeking a second opinion. It also shows that medical labs evaluating tissue samples should always handle them one at a time and double- or triple-check the patient’s identifying information.
Darrie’s Medical Malpractice Claim
The best medical malpractice lawyers in Pennsylvania know that these types of cases can be notoriously difficult to win, so it’s critical to take the time to thoroughly investigate what happened and who may be liable.
Darrie’s lawyer waited a year to file a medical malpractice suit against the lab that processed her tissue sample. They wanted to make sure they brought a claim against the right parties, as the physicians and surgeons who treated her did so in good faith based and were unaware that the results were flawed. There was some conflict between CBL Path and their insurer about settling the claim without litigation, however, they ended up reaching a settlement agreement without going to trial. Although Darrie recovered monetary compensation, her life has been forever changed.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries or losses due to a medical error, you don’t have to go it alone. Our experienced, compassionate medical malpractice lawyers in Delaware County, PA can evaluate your case and advise you of your options.