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Mammography injury sparks civil lawsuit

Nov 15 2011

A Victoria woman is suing a mammography technician and the operators of the B.C. Mammography Screening Clinic for negligence after she was injured during a routine mammogram in October 2008.

Joy Ann McKerr's 10day civil trial against CML HealthCare Inc. is expected to begin today in B.C. Supreme Court. McKerr is seeking substantial damages for injuries suffered that she claims accelerated her breast cancer.

On Oct. 3, 2008, when she went to the screening clinic on Richmond Road, McKerr was a healthy 60year-old with no health concerns, said her lawyer, Jacqueline Horton.

During the mammogram and the sideways compression of her left breast, McKerr told the technician she was very uncomfortable and in severe pain. According to McKerr, the technician ignored her.

As the compression increased, she asked the technician to stop, but the technician simply told her to hold her breath, said Horton.

At that point, McKerr felt something rupture in her left breast. Her breast became swollen and bruised. McKerr was in extreme pain, said Horton.

Five days later, McKerr was examined by her family doctor, Dr. Steven Goodchild, who noted a bruise and diagnosed a hematoma. He made a fast-track referral for the result of the mammogram.

On Oct. 20, Goodchild advised McKerr the results showed an abnormality in the upper outer quadrant of both breasts and recommended a follow-up. Because McKerr's left breast was so swollen and tender, she told the doctor she would wait until the pain subsided. But the pain and swelling did not subside, said Horton.

In January 2009, an ultrasound showed a large mass in McKerr's left breast in the area of the hematoma. In February, McKerr was diagnosed with inflammatory carcinoma. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation until September. In October, she had a partial radical mastectomy and was considered cancerfree.

However, in March 2011, McKerr had a recurrence of her inflammatory breast cancer. Since July, she has had no further treatment.

Horton expects to call a medical expert to testify that the trauma suffered during the mammogram accelerated a cancer so small it likely would not have manifested itself for months, if not years.

A consulting economist has estimated McKerr's total economic loss to be $2.2 million. Before her illness, McKerr ran a downsizing and relocating business. Her future and end-of-life care is estimated at approximately $247,000. McKerr is also seeking damages of between $100,000 and $135,000 for pain and suffering and shortened life expectancy.

ldickson@timescolonist.com

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