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Payments for Missed Breast Cancer: £5,000

March 9, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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After a radiologist in Great Britain was found to have missed evidence of breast cancer in mammograms of 61 women, the National Health Service Litigation Authority—rather than a judge or jury—determined the women’s compensation.

The payments: £5,000 (5,000 British pounds) apiece, or, as of today’s exchange rate, about $8,084.

Letitia Newhouse says her breast cancer was missed during five separate checkups over a period of seven months, including two examinations by radiologist Glenn Kelly. She eventually had to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy. Her reaction, as reported by the Daily Mail newspaper:

This has changed my life, and the stress has been unbearable. It was never about the money, but £5,000 is an insult, a derogatory amount.

Dr. Kelly, former director of breast screening for East Lancashire Hospitals Trust, practiced at Accrington Victoria Hospital in Lancashire, in northwest England. He has been suspended from duty pending disciplinary proceedings and has not worked at the hospital since April 2009.

According to the Lancashire Telegraph newspaper, however, he has continued to draw his pay of at least £94,911 a year (about $153,456) while the investigation proceeds.

The BBC reports that an independent report released in early February accused Dr. Kelly of incorrectly giving 61 women an all-clear report when in fact their mammograms showed evidence of cancer. The mistakes occurred from 2000 through early 2009.

The report said the radiologist had “routinely failed to carry out a full and complete assessment on significant numbers of his patients.” In fact, it said, 92 percent of his patients had not been assessed in accordance with national guidelines.

The doctor never performed an ultrasound after abnormalities were detected on mammograms, the report said. And he never became proficient in ultrasound-guided breast biopsies.

The report quoted “Dr. X,” as it called the radiologist in question, as saying the missed cancers were a “direct consequence of illness and stress,” which impaired his judgment and concentration.

Related seminar: Breast & Women’s Imaging Seminar (new release)

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