CT Center for Patient Safety Newsletter
Letters we won't send but have always wanted to write
July 2010 
 203 247 5757
Dear Members, 
Please take time over the summer to write a letter to that doctor, nurse or hospital - a letter you always wanted to write but never did because you knew you could not send it.  But you can send it to us.  We will never use names but we may use your experience to show there are consequences far beyond the specific adverse event.
I have heard stories of bankruptcy, life long pain, humiliation, divorce, even death.  Now we want to hear from you.  This wonderful idea came from one of our newer members whose letter is showcased below.
Here is an outline you might use.
   What happened to me was...
   How could you....
   How dare you....
   The immediate consequences to me were...
   I still suffer the results of what you did because...
   Other patients wouldn't suffer like I did if...
   I wish you had...

Dear Doctor,


Remember me, you unethical, cruel moron? I innocently walked into your torture chamber called a core needle biopsy. I was given no advance notice that this procedure could be painful. I was given no painkillers or sedation during the procedure. This, unbelievably, when you and your nurses knew from experience that a core needle biopsy on breast tissue can be incredibly painful. Ask any woman that has had your "non-invasive" procedure what it felt like. Oh, I forgot, you wouldn't possibly consider stooping so low as to actually ask for feedback from a patient, now would you? I had no information to prepare for our battle, to protect myself, to advocate for myself. I trusted you and the hospital that granted you privileges to perform this procedure.


After the first plunge of your device into by breast, you gave a command to extract. This meant that little metal claws dug into my sensitive skin, tissue, and nerves before ripping part of it away, sucking it out into a needle.  My eyes rolled back in pain and I yelped like a half-road-killed dog.


But did you stop? Did you consider my pain? No, you did not. We both knew there were five more plunges you planned to do.  Three in the right breast, and two more in the left. You called in an additional nurse and had her hold my legs down so that you could continue the procedure without throwing your schedule off by waiting thirty minutes or less for a painkiller or sedative to take effect. Oh yes, it was a Friday afternoon. So you were probably anxious to finish up your little non-invasive procedure to get an early start on your weekend.


I was near convulsions - crying and screaming. Yet you did nothing to ease my pain. When it was over, I was taken - hunched over in pain and trembling - to a gurney in a dark, unused equipment storage room, to recover. There I sat, in pain, by myself. The terror that the biopsy could result in a diagnosis of breast cancer was eclipsed by the shock of what you had done to me, without fair warning.


Of course, you don't know what happened next. You don't even remember my name, my face, or my screams of pain. In fact, to cover your ass, you lied in your surgical report stating, "the patient tolerated the procedure well". Unethical on top of callous.


But wait, there's more. Based on your biopsies, I was diagnosed with cancer in my left breast while my right breast was pronounced cancer-free. I proceeded with a lumpectomy, tending only to the left breast. I decided to get a second opinion and guess what? After all that torture, you were wrong. I had cancer in my right breast, too. Had I acted on your diagnosis alone, I might have died.


To this day, six years later, I still suffer physically from the nerve damage you caused. Not every day, not every week, but often - and out of the blue - I get a searing pain that reminds me again of what I've tried to forget.


My wish is for you to undergo your own procedure to feel what your patients feel.  For you to truthfully document your surgical notes, so that they can be used by the hospital to change patient care before, during, and after this procedure. For you to alert patients upfront that the procedure could be painful. For you to stop ridiculously describing this procedure as "non-invasive".  For you to incorporate patient-specific pain medication, appropriate recovery time and space, and post-procedure pain medications whenever you perform a core needle biopsy. And, finally, for you to make full disclosure that the core needle biopsy may not detect existing cancer after all.


Doctor, you have caused me physical and emotional pain for six years. You nearly killed me with your misdiagnosis. I have absolutely no respect for you and the system that allows you to operate in this manner.




B. L. S.