Seattle report claims: “Admitting medical errors is not always the best policy”

Five years ago, a medical laboratory in Canada made a series of catastrophic mistakes. Lab tests misdiagnosed the estrogen receptor status of almost 400 Newfoundland women with breast cancer – a potentially deadly error because women who are estrogen receptor positive must receive different cancer treatments than women who are ER negative. But it wasn’t until two years later, after the CBC and other national media across Canada ran stories revealing this disturbingly high rate of errors, that the provincial government finally ordered a commission of inquiry to get at the truth. Of those wrongly tested and thus wrongly treated women, 100 are now dead.

Fifty of the women, some of whom had undergone mastectomies, had been told they had advanced breast cancer when they did not.   Continue reading