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Woman Gets $198,000 for Mistaken Mastectomy

LOS ANGELES -- A woman who underwent a double mastectomy and later discovered she didn't have breast cancer was set to receive $198,000 under a settlement approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Ana Jimenez-Salgado had her breasts surgically removed at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center after two outside pathologists determined the cells obtained from an August 2007 biopsy were cancerous.

She later underwent reconstructive surgery. The hospital's pathologists examined tissue obtained during that procedure and concluded she did not have breast cancer.

Instead, she was suffering from "a benign condition with features that are very similar to cancerous cells," according to county documents.

Jimenez-Salgado filed a medical malpractice lawsuit, alleging the hospital was negligent in relying on the interpretation of the outside pathologists. She also claimed the breast reconstruction surgery was negligently performed.

The county acknowledged it failed to review the biopsy specimens, resulting in the unnecessary mastectomy.

The hospital has revised its policies to ensure that in-house pathologists review biopsy specimens obtained from outside facilities. It has also stopped sending patients to outside facilities for MRI directed biopsies.

In approving the settlement, the county supervisors also agreed to pay $24,756 of Jimenez-Salgado's medical bills not covered by Medi-Cal, the state's version of the federal Medicaid program.

An after-hours call seeking comment from Jimenez-Salgado's attorney wasn't immediately returned.

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