Woman Sues for Unneeded Double Mastectomy After Mislabeled Biopsy

Darrie Eason of Long Island, New York, received a positive prognosis after her double mastectomy, which is the best news that a breast cancer patient can hear. The trouble is, the reason that she no longer had cancer is because she never had it in the first place.

A mislabeled tissue sample led Eason's doctors to a misdiagnosis of an invasive form of breast cancer. In order to halt the spread of the cancer, doctors recommended a radical surgery to remove both of her breasts.

Eason is a 35-year-old single mother of a 15-year-old son who works at a local community newspaper. She received the news in early 2006 that she had breast cancer, a devastating blow that left Eason feeling pessimistic about her future, according to her own account.

In order to confirm the medical advice of the double mastectomy and the severity of the cancer, she sought a second medical opinion on her condition. The result was the same, however; the second doctor relied on the same mislabeled tissue sample as the first, meaning that the effort was in vain.

Now, a medical injury lawsuit Eason is filing against the lab that handled her biopsy samples, CBLPath medical laboratory in Rye Brook, New York, hopes to create some change for other women who may find themselves in her situation.

Eason stated in a nationally-televised interview on TODAY with host Meredith Vieira that she hopes to popularize her story in order to let other women know what steps they can take in order to make sure that they receive reliable information.

Of course, the other side of the story is that when the lab mixed up the sample, another mislabeled sample was sent out to doctors for another woman who did have cancer and was told she did not. Her side may be the more tragic as well, since early diagnosis is one of the most critical steps to take in fighting cancer, and she did not find out the earliest she could.

A report by the New York State Department of Health revealed "no systemic problems and no deficiencies," according to news sources. They claimed that the mistake was an isolated incident and that the problem was "most likely" the process of "batching," meaning handling more than one sample at the same time.

Eason's lawyer points to expert opinion that the single biopsy test was one of the major problems of the incident, meaning that a second lab report should have been drafted for the second doctor opinion. In Eason's case, it could have revealed the previously mislabeled sample before the unalterable operation.

On a system level, the necessity of handling samples in the lab one at a time seems like a change that the lab may be required to implement.

In any case, any change that could be made would be far too late for Darrie Eason.

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