CBS News recently highlighted a story about a Los Angeles woman who was awarded $198,000 after she underwent a double mastectomy that was later determined to be unnecessary.
Ana Jimenez-Salgado had both of her breasts removed at the Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center after being told that she had cancerous cells in both breasts. The hospital had performed a biopsy in August 2007, but had sent the cell specimens to be reviewed by outside pathologists, rather than by their own internal department, and failed to check the results themselves when the diagnosis of cancer was made.
Only later, when Ms. Jimenez-Salgado returned to the hospital for reconstructive surgery on her breasts, did the hospital examine her cell tissue which demonstrated that she did not have cancer, but rather a benign condition that closely resembles cancer.
Stories like this are obviously disturbing, but medical malpractice cases are not as uncommon as one might imagine. Doctors and hospitals, especially ones that are as over-taxed and over-crowded as Los Angeles County Hospital, can make mistakes that can forever affect the lives of their patients.