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A Piece of My Mind
May 2, 2017

After the Medical Error

Author Affiliations
  • 1San Jose State University, Health Science & Recreation, San Jose State University, San Jose, California
JAMA. 2017;317(17):1763-1764. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0004

I grew up knowing that my father had saved my mother’s life. This wasn’t some romantic drama. During her first cone-down radiation treatment for invasive breast cancer, she convinced the radiologist to let my father, an internist practicing in the same hospital, watch. As the machine was lowered, he realized that the cone was aimed at a 10-year-old fibroadenoma scar instead of her cancerous tumor. My dad stopped the treatment and my mom had new tattoos drawn, only to realize that these were also incorrectly placed. They drove to the surgeon’s office, where the surgeon consulted his handwritten note and drew the location of the recent tumor with permanent marker.

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