Pittsburgh Hospital Reviewing Pap Tests After Lawsuit
The Washington Hospital in Pittsburgh is reviewing at least 500 Pap smear slides analyzed in its laboratory following a lawsuit in which a woman alleged a pathologist misread her tests for five years before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In an e-mail to the newspaper, the […]
The Washington Hospital in Pittsburgh is reviewing at least 500 Pap smear slides analyzed in its laboratory following a lawsuit in which a woman alleged a pathologist misread her tests for five years before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In an e-mail to the newspaper, the hospital said it is taking the allegations seriously and is working to identify any patient safety concerns. “The hospital is also cooperating with independent agencies to evaluate the quality of pathology services, and preliminary results have not identified any widespread deficiencies in Pap smear interpretation. In the event that patient safety concerns are identified or verified, the hospital is prepared to follow up with individual patients and their physicians.” According to the newspaper report, groups investigating the allegations are the Pennsylvania Department of State, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Joint Commission, and the College of American Pathologists. The reviews were initiated after Jennifer Beiswenger, 30, of Canonsburg, Pa., filed a medical malpractice lawsuit Oct. 1 against the hospital, the hospital’s pathology lab, and eight doctors, including her obstetrics and gynecological doctors, and Richard Pataki, the lab’s medical director. Beiswenger was diagnosed with cervical cancer in May 2011, two months after giving birth. She responded well to treatment and was free of cancer by November 2011. She currently remains cancer free. Beiswenger’s attorney, Deborah Maliver, sent letters to various government and accrediting organizations letting them know what had happened. “It can’t be random that her tests were misread for five straight years,” said Maliver, a former physician now practicing law. “There’s a potential for a health risk here.” According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the hospital reportedly has turned over 500 slides—a sampling of the thousands it reviews—from other women from the past five years to the pathology laboratory at Magee-Women’s Hospital of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center for an outside review. The hospital asked for review of its Pap smear slides because Beiswenger charged in her lawsuit that for at least five years, 2006 to 2010, Pataki misread her slides. According to the lawsuit, Pataki found the tests were normal while multiple pathology experts hired by Maliver concluded that the five years of tests showed a clear progression from precancerous cells to an invasive carcinoma. According to the lawsuit, Pataki and his colleagues reviewed her slides on May 26, 2011, after learning that she had been diagnosed with cervical cancer and concluded that there were a number of multiple atypical glandular cells of undetermined significance. Such a finding “should have been a red flag for a biopsy or other additional testing,” Mailver said. However, during that time Beiswenger never had additional testing that would have confirmed cervical cancer. In 2006, Beiswenger was also tested for human papillomavirus, or HPV, which came back positive. That same year Pataki found her Pap smear showed “atypical squamous cells of uncertain significance.” Those findings should have resulted in additional testing by her obstetrics and gynecological doctors when they were given the results, the lawsuit charges.