Clinton, Utah. -- (KSL) A Utah woman who almost went through unnecessary chemotherapy after her breast tissue sample was lost in the mail now has positive results to report.
Marlene Van Duyne is in 95 percent remission and doesn't need chemotherapy. But she never would have known the good news if she didn't take her health into her own hands. An ultrasound at McKay-Dee Hospital found a cancerous tumor in Van Duyne's right breast. Duyne chose to have a double mastectomy.
Her breast tissue sample was sent to Associates of Pathology on the Ogden Regional Medical Center campus from where it was sent to a lab for further testing, but the package was lost.
“I’m too strong of a person to give up like that,” Van Duyne said.
So after Van Duyne and her doctor brought attention to her problem, the hospital was able to find another sample to send for testing.
“If something doesn’t feel right, then ask questions, push back,” said Dr. Brett Parkinson with Intermountain Healthcare.
As a radiologist, Parkinson believes patients should not only advocate for themselves but should also bring a family member or friend to their doctor visits.
You should be knowledgeable about your condition and informed every step of the way.
“I don’t think it’s inappropriate for a patient to look a physician in the eye and say, hey, slow down. I’m here, look me in the eye, and tell me what’s going on,” Parkinson said. “That is the patient’s right, to make sure things are done properly"
But it goes both ways — you should bring a list of symptoms, medications, medical and surgical history and previous medical records. And if you're diagnosed with a severe illness or disease, your doctor should provide a medical team of experts.
“It’s a built-in second opinion,” Parkinson said.
Experts say between 210,000 and 440,000 patients every year are exposed to some kind of error that contributes to their death, according to a study in the Journal of Patient Safety.
But don't discount the millions of lives that are saved every year by medical professionals.
Van Duyne said she's thankful she felt compelled made the calls to fix the problem.
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