Sudbury·Audio

Health Sciences North faces lawsuit over 'misread' breast imaging reports

A GTA law firm says it has filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that patient breast imaging reports were misread by the radiologists at Sudbury’s Health Sciences North hospital.

Lawsuit filed on behalf of patients and their family members by Shannon Hayes, a former HSN patient

The lawsuit has been filed on behalf of patients and their family members by Shannon Hayes, a former HSN patient, who alleges that her breast cancer was missed. File photo. (Becky Shink/Lansing State Journal/Associated Press)

A GTA law firm says it has filed a class-action lawsuit, claiming that patient breast imaging reports were misread by the radiologists at Sudbury's Health Sciences North hospital.

Gluckstein Lawyers allege the "negligence has resulted in catastrophic outcomes for patients following systemic breast imaging errors, including missed cancerous lesions."

The lawsuit, filed Dec. 14, 2020, names the hospital and several of its doctors and radiologists as defendants, and alleges that, between 2008 and 2020, "the department consistently fell below the required standard of care when interpreting breast imaging reports."

It has been filed on behalf of patients and their family members by Shannon Hayes, a former HSN patient, who alleges that her breast cancer was missed.

The case still needs to be certified and hasn't been defended or proven in court.

In a news release, the law firm says a year passed before her breast cancer was diagnosed following imaging performed at another hospital. By then, cancer had spread, and she is currently battling metastatic cancer.

"There needs to be a fundamental change in the culture of safety and quality at HSN," said Ms. Hayes.

"I was outraged to learn that HSN administration knew about problems for months before my imaging was misread but did nothing and kept the problems at the hospital under wraps."

The lawsuit seeks compensation for affected patients and a court order requiring the hospital to have all affected breast imaging reviewed by a specialist for errors.

In a statement emailed to CBC News, HSN says it's unable to comment on the matter, as it's before the courts.

"HSN strives to uphold stringent standards and best practices to ensure patients receive the best quality care."

The spokesperson notes that in 2018, HSN had eight radiologists. In 2019, a new chief of medical imaging was hired by the hospital and collaboration began with three Toronto academic centers "to ensure HSN patients and medical staff benefit from a large pool of world-class expertise."

The hospital in Sudbury is being accused of misreading scans for breast cancer. A class-action lawsuit has been launched. The suit claims that, as a result, patients had their cancer misdiagnosed and required extensive treatment. We heard more from Jordan Assaraf, one of the lawyers behind the suit. 8:00

The law firm representing the plaintiffs say they obtained a letter written by doctors at the hospital, outlining concerns to senior management. Lawyer Jordan Assaraf says he was made aware of the letter by a client who had a scan misread.

"And we thought we would issue a class order to represent those people who have been affected by this systemic failure and a real failure in the leadership coming from Health Sciences North," he said.

Assaraf says Hayes was told after a scan in 2018 that a lump in her breast was benign.

"The severity would not have been the same of what it is, it would have been caught earlier. We still don't know at what stage it would have been if it had been caught earlier, but had it been caught earlier, she would not have been going through the invasive procedures that she's doing now."

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