'Discrepancies' in Providence pathologist's work led to delayed cancer diagnoses: Report

 Providence has confirmed a pathologist is no longer providing services at the system after finding "discrepancies" with their work. This comes as at least seven patients have reported their lab results were incorrectly reviewed by the same pathologist.

FOX affiliate KPTV uncovered a similar pattern after hearing from several patients who reported that Jeffrey Harter, MD, informed them that their pathology results came back negative for cancer, only to be informed by their physician months later that there were errors in their pathology reports.  

Providence has not confirmed the name of the pathologist, but patients who spoke to KPTV said their results were reviewed by Dr. Harter. KPTV said it reviewed cases involving cervical cell samples, thyroid removals and tissues from breast biopsies. 

Jessica Vickers, a patient with a family history of breast cancer, told the news outlet that MRI results last February had found concerning lumps. Ms. Vickers said she was scheduled for a biopsy with Dr. Harter, who informed her that the results were negative for cancer. One year later, she got a call from her primary care physician, telling her she did have a form of cancer. 

In a statement published Feb. 20, Providence said it discovered "some discrepancies in the work of one pathologist" as part of a routine internal review process, and confirmed the pathologist in question is not providing services for the system. The review is taking place in Portland, Ore., a spokesperson said. 

"In the interest of patient safety, upon learning of these discrepancies, we elected to review additional cases read by the same pathologist. When we did that, we discovered that some pathology specimens had been reviewed incorrectly," Providence said in the statement.

Providence said it is in the process of contacting the provider teams treating affected patients, and that it is still in the process of determining how many patients may have been affected. 

"We apologize for the concerns this will cause for our patients. We have no reason to believe there are concerns involving any other pathology findings," Providence said.

Providence is based in Renton, Wash. 


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