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Radiologist fined $750 allowed to keep his license after losing 24 patients to breast cancer

A New Hampshire radiologist who failed to diagnose breast cancer in 24 women across the state over a three-year period was allowed to keep his medical license and pay a $750 fine even though his mistakes ruined lives of people.

In at least one case, Dr. Mark Guilfoyle, a practicing radiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who worked to provide radiology services at three small rural hospitals in the state, saw the same woman three times but he couldn’t see anything abnormal on her mammogram.

The complaints were filed several years ago, and Guilfoyle’s September 2019 settlement with the New Hampshire Board of Medicine recently came to light.

Guilfoyles sanctions prevent him from reading mammograms only in the state of New Hampshire, although he is still allowed to interpret x-rays and radiological images

Dr. Mark Guilfoyle, who practiced as a radiologist at three rural New Hampshire hospitals, missed breast cancer diagnoses in 24 cases over a three-year period.

the boston globe he conducted his own investigation after a former patient of Guilfoyle’s came forward.

Patricia Eddy was told that her mammograms in 2015, 2016 and 2017 administered under Guilfoyle’s care were free of disease, but upon further examination, she was told that breast cancer was present each and every time, only that the radiologist had not detected it.

Eddy, 66, underwent a double mastectomy after what she says were doctor’s errors. She is furious that he still allowed her to practice and was able to keep her license.

Personally, I don’t think I should be reading anything. You have this doctor who was harming innocent patients with his ineptitude, and they’re not doing anything about it.

Eddy alerted the New Hampshire Board of Medicine in August 2017 and explained everything that had happened, demanding to know why Guilfoyle was still practicing medicine.

Patricia Eddy was told that her mammograms in 2015, 2016 and 2017 administered under Guilfoyle’s care were free of disease, but upon further examination, she was told that breast cancer was present each and every time, only that the radiologist had not detected it.

It took another eight months before he received a response informing him that the doctor had not received any form of ‘formal disciplinary action’ despite his complaint.

It would be another two years before the board reached its own agreement with Guilfoyle.

One of Guilfoyles’ superiors, Dr. Rebecca Zuurbier, who was director of breast imaging at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, also worried about the doctor’s work.

Cheryl Jensen, 76, said Guilfoyle “ruined the rest of my life” by misreading her mammograms. This led to her breast cancer having time to spread and she was finally diagnosed in early 2018, after which she had to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

It led to a review of every mammogram and breast ultrasound that the radiologist had interpreted, consisting of more than 5,500 patient visits.

It was at that time that the two dozen women with missed breast cancers were found.

Affected patients were informed and further tests and treatment were performed if necessary.

“There were 24 patients with known missed breast cancers,” Zuurbier said.

The American Cancer Society says that about one in eight cancers go undetected on mammograms with such missed diagnoses as a reason for commenting on malpractice lawsuits against the radiologist.

Small growths can often be difficult to identify, especially due to the density and complexity of the breast tissue.

“I liken it to looking at a Jackson Pollock painting, with all the splatters and smudges and dots,” Zuurbier explained. ‘If someone puts a new dot, are you going to pick it up? I can come back later and find that new spot, although it’s hard sometimes. But there are basic things you learn that you shouldn’t miss.’

But she agrees, Guilfoyle “had a lot of big mistakes.”

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“Dartmouth Health acted promptly and decisively when it was determined that there was a suspected irregularity in one of their mammography readings,” added Dartmouth spokeswoman Audra Burn.

Dartmouth’s concerns were then passed on to the state’s medical board, which investigated the ‘allegations of professional misconduct’ according to the board on September 10, 2019, settlement agreement with the radiologist.

Dr. Rebecca Zuurbier, director of breast imaging at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, admits that detecting masses can be tricky, but Guilfoyle had “a lot of major flaws.”

A ruling by the New Hampshire State Medical Board saw Guilfoyle fined $750 and ‘reprimanded’, but he was still able to keep his license.

The board determined that Guilfoyle should pay the paltry fine and be ‘reprimanded’.

‘What he wanted from the beginning, he wanted his license. I was standing up for myself, but I was standing up for all the other women who were going to get a mammogram,” Eddy said. The world.

Eddy was one of two dozen patients who fell victim to Guilfoyle’s alleged inability to detect signs of breast cancer on their mammograms or breast ultrasounds.

In 2020, 11 of the women involved settled malpractice claims alleging that Guilfoyle’s negligence resulted in delayed diagnoses of her breast cancer.

The delay had life-threatening repercussions. The group eventually split the proceeds of a $4.6 million payment, but neither the alleged errors nor Guilfoyle’s $750 are mentioned in his doctor’s profile on the New Hampshire Board of Medicine website.

In fact, New Hampshire’s medical board is one of the least transparent in the country, and it’s not easy for patients to dig into their doctor’s past, even if they’ve been the subject of malpractice agreements, hospital discipline, or even criminal convictions.

Dr. Mark Guilfoyle practiced as a radiologist at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, pictured, along with three other rural hospitals in the state of New Hampshire.

Guilfoyle’s attorney, Jason Gregoire, only referred to Guilfoyle’s 2019 settlement with the board, saying it “speaks for itself,” adding that the doctor hasn’t read a mammogram since leaving Dartmouth.

Another woman, Cheryl Jensen, 76, said Guilfoyle “ruined the rest of my life” by misreading her mammograms.

Dr. Emily Baker, the current president of the New Hampshire medical board and a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist at Dartmouth Health, said she was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency.

This led to her breast cancer having time to spread and she was finally diagnosed in early 2018, after which she had to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

‘For me, the main issue is the Medical Board. It’s a lack of action and transparency,’ Jensen said.

After learning of Guilfoyle’s penalties, he pleaded with the board to reopen the case and revoke his license, but the board only responded that it “believes the matter has been fully investigated.”

“He got a slap on the wrist, and I got a slap in the face from that Board,” Jensen told The Globe bluntly.

Both Eddy and Jensen were patients at Weeks Medical Center in Lancaster, New Hampshire.

Guilfoyle is still licensed to practice in eight states, including Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Vermont and Washington, but in Georgia alone he lists the $4.6 million malpractice payout.

Dr. Emily Baker, the current president of the New Hampshire medical board and a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist at Dartmouth Health, said she was not authorized to speak on behalf of the agency.

Jacky

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