Perry Patient "Shocked" and "Angry" Over Mishandled Mammogram

11:03 PM, Sep 7, 2010   |    comments
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Miriam Mizell had a mammogram at Perry Hospital in 2008. It was never read by a doctor.

Miriam Mizell says she's one of the nearly 1,300 women whose mammogram was never read by a doctor after being administered at Perry Hospital.

"I was angry... I was shocked," says Mizell.

Mizell says she had her mammogram at Perry Hospital in 2008, and was contacted about five months ago by the hospital.

"I got a call from Perry Hospital saying we want you to come in for a complimentary mammogram and we want you to come in tomorrow." 

She was told she had been randomly selected and the extra mammogram would help them test their digital equipment.

"I was lied to from the beginning."

She went for the test and found out months after her original mammogram, she had cancer in her right breast.

Tuesday the Houston County District Attorney's Office announced the former Perry Hospital employee who handled the mammograms now faces 20 charges for submitting false mammogram results.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Ashford said the hospital radiology technician faces 10 counts of reckless conduct and 10 counts of computer fraud. Ashford said the woman faces up to 160 years in prison on the 20 counts.

Ashford identified the woman as Rachael Michelle Rapraeger of Macon.

The hospital said hundreds of women were told their test results were normal though a doctor never read their scans. According to Ashford,  Mizell was one of ten women who actually have cancer.

Mizell was first diagnosed with another type of cancer in 2007 and says the news of her delayed breast cancer diagnosis is upsetting, "I'm angry with both the hospital and the technician, because with everything I'm dealing with this is added stress."

 District Attorney Rabb Wilkerson said the Houston County grand jury approved the charges against the Rapraeger Tuesday. They say they hope the woman will turn herself in this week.

They say nobody else was involved in the case.

Ashford said the hospital determined that the woman submitted false negative results for 10 women who were later found to have breast cancer. Prosecutors brought fraud and reckless conduct charges in each of those 10 cases.

The case involved 1,289 mammogram cases that were not properly handled, the DA's office said today.

Prosecutors would not comment on the woman's motivation. They also said their investigation did not address whether hospital management handled the matter properly.

The Perry Police Department has been gathering evidence since May, when the hospital announced that hundreds of women may have received inaccurate mammogram test results.

Hospital attorney Victor Moldovan said an employee responsible for having the scans read by a doctor wasn't doing that. Moldovan says that employee was fired.

Houston Healthcare interim president Cary Martin released a statement Tuesday saying they've cooperated fully with investigators, that their own in-house investigation showed that Rachael Rapraeger acted alone and that they support the decision to prosecute her.

Houston Healthcare says anybody with concerns about the case can call them at 478-975-6500.

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