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Hundreds Of Women In Canada Had Wrong Cancer Test Results

Waiting on the results of a cancer test can cause anxiety. A negative cancer test result can be a huge relief, especially for women facing dangerous diseases like breast cancer. A positive test will allow patients and doctors to act quickly to do what they can to slow or eliminate the damage from cancer and give patient’s the best outcome. 

However, a test result that is not accurate can cause confusion, failure to treat the cancer, and unnecessary injury. Unfortunately for hundreds of women in Canada, erroneous cancer test results delayed treatment that may have led to a cancer resurgence. 

False Test Results and Cover-Up

More than 400 cancer patients received the wrong results from hormone receptor testing used in Newfoundland and Labrador. Between 1997 and 2005, patients received the wrong test results that informed patients and doctors of their treatment options. 

Health and government officials were aware of some of the issues but it took the media to break the story to the public, causing a scandal. Some information that should have alerted officials to look into the tests were different diagnosis in patients who sought a second opinion. 

An official inquiry, known as the Cameron Inquiry, was conducted to look into what happened. The report found that the pathology lab was not following standard operating procedures, there was no proper validation of the equipment, and quality control was not properly followed. 

“The procedures and protocols within Eastern Health for ER/PR testing during the period from 1997 to 2005 were so deficient as to be practically non-existent,” according to Cameron. “They were neither reasonable nor appropriate.”

Injury to Patient After False Testing

The estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor (ER/PR) tests can be used to help determine the treatment course for patients. Some patients had negative test results which, years later, were changed to positive results. Some of these patients did not receive timely hormone therapy and could have suffered a recurrence of cancer. 

The patients impacted by the mistakes and their families later settled a class action lawsuit against Eastern Health. A judge approved a $17.5 million settlement to more than 2,800 people, or the estates of those who had died before the settlement was reached. 

Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatments for breast cancer may depend on the type of cancer, location of the cancer, size of the cancerous tumor, and the patient’s overall health. Treatments may include surgically removing the tumor or having a full mastectomy (having the whole breast removed), using radiation and chemotherapy to destroy cancer cells, or using hormone therapy to slow or stop the growth of cancerous cells.

If you believe that you or a loved one’s breast cancer diagnosis, failure to diagnose, or treatment has been mishandled by a health care provider, you may have a claim for compensation, including medical costs, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering. Contact Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation. Fill out an online case evaluation form or call (800) 529-6162 today. 

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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