City woman files $2 million suit against hospital, doctor alleging misdiagnosis

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   An Elizabethton woman has filed a lawsuit seeking $2 million in damages from Sycamore Shoals Hospital, two medical groups, a medical technician and city physician alleging negligence in her diagnosis for breast cancer.
   Filed in Carter County Circuit Court by attorney Janet L. Hogan of Knoxville on Monday, the suit names Judy Campbell and her husband, Kenneth Campbell, as plaintiffs.
   The suit names as defendants Sycamore Shoals Hospital, Richard R. Reece, M.D., Appalachian Imaging of Elizabethton, Mountain Empire Radiology of Johnson City, and Dee Ann Britton.
   According to the plaintiff's complaint, Judy Campbell discovered in August 2001 she had an abnormal right breast mass and lesion identified by a mammogram, ultrasound and core biopsy which was tested positive for malignancy and determined to be an "Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma" or cancer.
   The complaint reads that Campbell had undergone a mammogram and ultrasound dated November 2, 2000, at Sycamore Shoals performed by technologist Britton and reported by Reece.
   The complaint alleges Britton "failed to reasonably conduct and/or interpret the ultrasound" in November.
   The complaint further alleges Reece was negligent in failing to follow up with a core biopsy and erroneously characterized the lesion as a cyst, when it was diagnosed as cancer nine months later.
   The Campbells' suit alleges Judy Campbell suffered damages caused by the combined or individual negligence of the defendants due to a nine-month delay in making a proper diagnosis of a "very invasive stage III carcinoma which grew from the size of a four to five millimeter lesion to a 3.8 centimeter (approximately 1-1/2 inch) lesion."
   Campbell was forced to undergo a more radical surgery with follow-up chemotherapy, and sustained increased disfigurement, including the loss of her right breast and surrounding muscle tissue, according to the lawsuit.
   The suit alleges that the radical procedures resulted from the misdiagnosis of the defendants' failing to identify the lesion as cancer earlier.
   Kenneth Campbell is seeking $150,000 from the defendants for loss of consortium with his wife, the complaint reads.
   The suit names Mountain Empire Radiology or Appalachian Imaging as the corporations where Reece performed his professional services and claims their liability for alleged negligence on behalf of Reece.
   The Campbells are seeking a jury trial and damages for pain, suffering and disfigurement resulting from the loss of her right breast, radical surgery performed, future medical care and lost income as a result of her physical restrictions.