Ont. woman will sue over mistaken mastectomy
TORONTO - A Leamington, Ont., woman whose case helped spark an investigation into wrongful mastectomies in Windsor is taking legal action over her case.
Laurie Johnston's lawyer said she has filed a claim in Windsor for wrongful surgery.
Johnston will speak about the case in Toronto on Wednesday.
She had a mastectomy last November at the Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital, performed by Dr. Barbara Heartwell, even though it turned out she did not have breast cancer.
Her case, and that of Janice Laporte, whose breast was removed by Heartwell at the same hospital in September 2001 and who also did not have cancer, have prompted a series of investigations.
Laporte filed a lawsuit over her case in 2002. She can't discuss the proceedings because of a confidentiality clause but the court case has ended, she said.
However in the statement of claim she filed Laporte alleged Heartwell performed "dramatic, disfiguring and invasive surgery" on her without informing her the pathologists who reviewed her tissue sample were seeking an outside opinion.
Heartwell's statement of defence said Laporte was given a copy of the pathology report -- which included the statement about an outside opinion -- and that Laporte chose to have a mastectomy "after being explained all of the risks, benefits and possible complications of the various treatment options."
The suit was settled before the allegations could be tested in court.
The Ontario government, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and Hotel-Dieu Hospital have all launched investigations into pathology or Heartwell.
The hospital is probing Heartwell's past cases as well as conducting a pathology review.
The latter investigation, already underway when the Heartwell allegations came to light, was prompted by an adverse medical event and the hospital has found seven serious cases of concern. It is being conducted by the three Windsor-area hospitals.
Pathologist Olive Williams and Heartwell are both being investigated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Hotel-Dieu suspended Williams's privileges in January. Heartwell has voluntarily stopped performing surgeries.
The hospitals are reviewing 3,500 of the highest risk cases first and have so far looked at 1,100, with no further discoveries affecting treatment, other than the initial seven they announced, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
The remaining high-risk cases are expected to be looked at within the next three weeks, at which time the hospitals will turn to cases with no implications on treatment.
Hotel-Dieu had set up a hotline last week after unnecessary surgeries performed by Heartwell and issues with Williams's pathology reports came out and has fielded 222 calls, spokeswoman Kim Spirou said.
So far 90 per cent of the callers' concerns have been addressed, she said. The other 10 per cent have asked for more detailed reviews of their cases and those are still ongoing.
Health Minister Deb Matthews says three doctors will start the investigation this week at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital as well as Windsor Regional Hospital and Leamington District Memorial Hospital.
They will review pathology reports going back two years and notify patients if they received incorrect results.
Hotel-Dieu has launched an internal review into cases involving Heartwell in addition to a pathology review underway since November.