For many women, one of the scariest moments in their life is the moment they feel a lump in their breast.
When 51-year-old Eduvigis Rodriguez first entered that nightmare, she went to Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York City.
A biopsy seemed to confirm the worst: she had cancer. According to the New York Post, Rodriguez was told she had infiltrating ductal carcinoma, the most common form of breast cancer, and was sent to Lenox Hill Hospital to have a mastectomy.
After she had her left breast removed, Rodriguez was notified that she was cancer-free ... because the disease was never there to begin with.
During routine post-surgery tissue testing, Lenox Hill pathologists discovered no cancer in the removed tissue. Rodriguez told the Post:
“I didn't know whether to smile and thank God I didn't have cancer or cry because I've been through so much.”
While the grave mistake began when Mount Sinai hospital pathologist Dr. Jean-Marc Cohen allegedly misread her biopsy results, Lenox Hill requires that its own medical staff reviews all outside pathology reports. So the error should have been caught before Rodriguez underwent surgery:
However, a review purportedly never took place despite her surgeon, Dr. Magdi Bebawi, signing a form that certified the slides had been independently reviewed. Bebawi told the Post that he called his patient to say he felt “very bad” and was “very sorry” for the unnecessary, invasive surgery.
Rodriguez called the realization a “strong shock” and has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit. She told the Post:
“I want justice, and I want explanations. I do not want to see this happen to anyone else. I had confidence in the surgeon and the hospitals, but I cannot believe all the mistakes that were made.”
In addition to going through a physically and emotionally taxing surgery for no reason, Rodriguez's suffering continued after she had reconstructive breast surgery. The Post reported that she had blood clots in her lungs and a surgical hernia that required additional procedures.
Rodriguez's biopsy result revealed that she actually had sclerosing adenosis — benign extra growth tissue — and her lawyer, Andrew Carboy, claimed if a second look had been taken, the surgery would have been cancelled.
Corey Wishner, a lawyer for Mount Sinai Beth Israel, told the Post the hospital is investigating the incident. Bebawi has since stopped performing surgeries at Lenox Hill and has been placed on medical leave.