Woman would not have had double mastectomy if gene test results were known, suit claims

By Kelly Holleran | Aug 11, 2010

A woman has filed suit against the doctors who removed both of her breasts, saying she would not have had the mastectomy performed had they informed her she tested negative for carrying a breast cancer gene.

Kellie S. Habash claims defendant Doctor Douglas B. Aach, working for defendant Lincoln Surgical Associates, removed both of her breasts in a July 21, 2008, surgery. Habash elected to have the surgery after believing she tested positive for one or both genetic markers associated with breast cancer, according to the complaint.

"Douglas B. Aach failed to advise Kellie Habash that she had tested negative for BRCA I and BRCA II analysis showing no mutations on the sequencing of these genetic markers," the suit states. "Kellie Habash would not have had the breast removal surgery had she understood that her markers were negative."

Defendant Dr. Dwight O'Dell knew of Habash's belief that her results came back positive, but failed to inform Aach of her belief before he performed the surgery, the complaint says.

Defendant Dr. Robert C. Wanless of Defendant Plastic Surgery Consultants had agreed on the plan to remove Habash's breasts, but failed to inform her of the unnecessary nature of the procedure, the complaint says.

Because of the double mastectomy, Habash claims she was mutilated, has scars across the middle of her chest and suffers from infection.

In addition, she experienced pain and suffering, incurred medical costs, lost earnings and has been deformed, the complaint says.

She blames the defendants for causing her to undergo the surgery and the associated pain, saying they failed to obtain informed consent from Habash before performing the surgery, failed to test any of Habash's relatives with cancer to clarify the results and failed to obtain a consultation with a Washington University physician. The defendants also allegedly negligently failed to clarify Habash's understanding of the BRCA analysis, according to the complaint.

The suit claims that during the surgery the defending doctors and centers negligently utilized an improper surgical technique, improperly performed an ellipse incision and a radical mastectomy and failed to perform a skin-sparring mastectomy.

In her six-count complaint, Habash is seeking an unspecified judgment, plus costs.

Drew C. Baebler of Bauer and Baebler in St. Louis will be representing her.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-372.

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