Health Sciences North Facing Lawsuit Over Misread Breast Cancer Imaging

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Health Sciences North Facing Lawsuit Over Misread Breast Cancer Imaging
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Health Sciences North (HSN) in Ontario, Canada is facing a class action lawsuit over misread tests and misdiagnosed breast cancer in patients from 2008 to 2020.

As a part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program, HSN provided radiology and imaging services, screening women via ultrasound and MRIs for signs of breast cancer. However, according to the official complaint, an “objective decline in the standards of practice” has unnecessarily put patients at risk by misdiagnosing or delaying a diagnosis of breast cancer in need of treatment.

Surgeons and treatment teams at the hospital claim the radiology oversights inhibit their ability to effectively treat patients.

Misdiagnosis and delays in diagnosis are considered a prominent example of medical malpractice; the difficulty lies in identifying a poor but reasonable outcome versus an avoidable error. Cancer, like many diseases, worsens with time and can become harder to treat if it is not caught right away. Like other cases of misdiagnosis, the women in this lawsuit are seeking compensation for the damages they would not have suffered had they been diagnosed after their initial tests at HSN. Misdiagnosis can be particularly harmful in cancer cases, which almost always worsen with time if left untreated.

The lawsuit further alleges that HSN was notified of its shortcomings by hospital staff but failed to take action.

If this allegation is true, it removes the defense that HSN was simply unaware of the difficulties posed by its current breast cancer screening system. In fact, the complaint goes on to allege that “...healthcare professionals at HSN seeking to raise concerns about the radiology at HSN were subject to bullying and other punitive action in retaliation for raising legitimate concerns.” This raises the distinct possibility that in addition to medical malpractice, illegal employer retaliation may have exacerbated the problem. In terms of medical malpractice, complaints going ignored or hidden away is a big red flag.

On behalf of all class members, the plaintiff is seeking a wide variety of monetary and injunctive damages.

First and foremost, the relief claim is seeking an order for HSN to hire at their own expense an independent radiologist with breast cancer expertise to assess and interpret the existing patient records. Other damages being pursued include general, aggravated, and special damages for the medical expenses suffered by the women that could have been avoided by adhering to the standard of care. The complaint is also seeking punitive damages in the amount of $2,000,000 to discourage HSN from conducting business similarly in the future.

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