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Report: Women suffer from false-positive mammograms

As we often discuss, a medical misdiagnosis can be a life-threatening mistake. Not only can a misdiagnosis put a person at risk physically, it can also cause emotional damage to a patient. According to an article published recently online in Annals of Family Medicine, psychological damage following false-positive mammogram tests can affect women for at least three years.

A false-positive result from a mammogram means that the patient is told that she may have breast cancer when in fact she does not. Although it is obviously a huge relief for the patient to find out that she does not have cancer, the article stated that psychological testing indicates that a woman who received a false-positive test could be just as emotionally damaged as a woman with breast cancer six months after the inaccurate result.

The article said that even three years after the false-positive test result, women still suffered from psychological consequences that were not found in women who had received normal mammogram results. The authors of the article concluded that “[h]aving a false positive is not harmless and causes undesirable outcomes in the long run.”

False-positive mammogram results are more common in the United States and Europe than one may think. Studies show that false-positives occur roughly 20 percent to 60 percent of the time. For years, studies have documented the harmful short term psychological effects of false-positive monograms, but the long-term effects have been harder to document.

Just like missed diagnoses, instances of false-positive medical test results could be considered medical malpractice if some type of negligence was involved and the patient suffered damages. If you have suffered because of a false-positive mammogram or other medical test, it might be wise to consult a medical malpractice attorney in your area.

Source:  MedPage Today, “Women Haunted by False-Positive Mammograms,” Charles Bankhead, March 22, 2013