ST. PAUL (AP) -- The Wisconsin woman whose breasts were removed after she was mistakenly told she had cancer is suing the pathologist who made the misdiagnosis and the pathologist's employer.
Linda McDougal, who filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Ramsey County District Court, underwent a double mastectomy after doctors informed her last May that she had an aggressive form of cancer, based on a biopsy done after a spot showed up on her mammogram.
McDougal, however, didn't have cancer. The diagnosis was based on a lab mix-up that confused her tissue with another woman's.
The defendants are pathologist Margaret Cochrane and her employer, Hospital Pathology Associates. The lawsuit seeks in excess of $200,000 but the exact amount wasn't specified.
"There is no question I made a mistake," Cochrane told KSTP-TV. "I made a terrible mistake and you know I want to sincerely apologize to Mrs. McDougal for this mistake."
McDougal and her husband, Jerry McDougal, are being represented by Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, the high-powered Minneapolis law firm that helped Minnesota win a multibillion dollar settlement from tobacco companies.
Linda McDougal, of Woodville, Wis., has become a staunch critic of the movement to limit jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.
In particular, she has criticized a plan by President Bush that would limit noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering to $250,000, and punitive damages to twice actual losses, up to a cap of $250,000. Bush argues that malpractice lawsuits are damaging the nation's health care system and costing the federal government billions of dollars in higher health costs.
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