A southern Oregon woman is suing two of her doctors and a nurse practitioner claiming they falsely told her she had cancer-causing genes and needed invasive surgeries. Elisha Cooke-Moore says it wasn’t until after the grueling procedures that she found out the genetic tests for cancer she took beforehand were negative.
Now, she’s hoping her experience can teach others to be an advocate in their own health care, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.
“They robbed me of who I was,” Cooke-Moore said.
The 36-year-old’s life changed dramatically when she underwent a double mastectomy and hysterectomy last year as a precaution after getting a genetic test she was told indicated a high risk for cancer.
When she later found out she did not have those genetic markers and did not need those surgeries, she says she was devastated.
“I’m still devastated,” she said.
In lawsuit filed last week, Cooke-Moore claims the doctor who performed her hysterectomy and her nurse practitioner told her she had Lynch syndrome cancer genes which are associated with increased risk of endometrial, ovarian and other cancers.
“I think I went numb. That’s kind of shocking to hear,” she said.
She alleges Dr. William Fitts recommended and performed a preventive hysterectomy at a southern Oregon hospital. Two months later, another surgeon, Dr. Jessica Carlson, gave her a preventive double mastectomy. She says it was only after painful complications prompted her to see another doctor that she discovered her genetic tests were misread. She did not have the cancer-causing genes.
“Nobody checked with my lab. I called my lab, they said we never said that. Your results are negative,” Cooke-Moore said.
Now, she’s suing the three medical professionals and their medical offices for $1.8 million – the state maximum. Her attorney, Christopher Cauble, calls it a blatant case of malpractice.
“There’s not a lot of things that surprise me anymore, but that was certainly something that surprised me,” Cauble said.
CBS News reached out to the defendants in the case. The medical practice’s CEO and Dr. Fitts’ attorney say they “cannot comment on pending litigation.”
“Second opinions are critical,” said Dr. David Agus, an oncologist and CBS News medical contributor. “You have to take charge of your own data and actually look at the numbers and talk.”
Cooke-Moore now hopes others learn from her medical mistake. At the time, she didn’t feel there was a need for a second opinion.
“You know, no. I trusted them and that’s maybe where I went wrong,” Cooke-Moore said.
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