Doctors have a license as proof that they can perform their duty — to provide assurance for patients who entrust their lives to them. With years of studying the field of medicine they majored in, patients expect to receive high-quality service from a medical professional. Most importantly, patients rely on the doctor’s capability to provide accurate diagnostics after a health examination. It would be a huge help for the patient if they were given the correct details about their current medical condition. If not, a missed diagnosis might further develop, costing the patient time and more money for treatments.
Sometimes patients would opt for a second opinion from a different specialist to have added assurance. Recently, a radiologist from New Hampshire was under fire for committing mistakes with his previous patients. Dr. Mark Guilfoyle has handled 24 women’s cases for three years, yet he could not detect breast cancer during mammogram examinations. He even met with the same woman three times for over three years, and Dr. Guilfoyle still had it wrong.
The controversial radiologist practiced at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. After that, Dr. Guilfoyle served as a licensed radiologist in three small, rural hospitals.
Among those 24 women, Patricia Eddy shared her knowledge of the missed diagnostics. She was a patient of Dr. Guilfoyle, and he read her mammogram results from 2015, 2016, and 2017. The doctor was confident that Patricia’s results showed no signs of breast cancer. She was not informed that she had breast cancer until she had a close examination.
“Personally, I don’t think he should be reading anything. You’ve got this doctor who was harming innocent patients with his ineptness, and they’re doing nothing about it,” Patricia said. Due to a late diagnosis, she had to undergo a double mastectomy at 66. She was also one of the patients who brought the issue to the New Hampshire Board of Medicine in August of 2017. However, it took eight months before the board gave attention to her complaints. The board hadn’t given any consequences to Dr. Guilfoyle, which disappointed Patricia Eddy.
Aside from Eddy, another breast cancer fighter intervened to resolve the medical injustice. The missed diagnosis has given breast cancer enough time to develop, which made matters worse for Cheryl Jensen. She only knew about the growing breast cancer in 2018. Instead of receiving early medication to fight cancer, she underwent surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Like Eddy, 76-year-old Jensen could not accept the judgment given to Dr. Guilfoyle. She requested that the case be opened again and that his license be rescinded. However, the board only gave another dismaying reply.
“He got a slap on the wrist, and I got a slap in the face from that Board,” Jensen said in an interview with The Globe. With more patients coming forward to give light on the issue, every mammogram test and breast ultrasound handled by the doctor was once again reviewed. There were over 5,500 appointments, and among those patients, there were 12 other women with missed breast cancer diagnoses. They were immediately informed of the case and were provided with tests. If medications were required, it would be given to them as well.
Those re-examinations were due to the concern of Dr. Rebecca Zuurbier, director of breast imaging at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. “There were 24 patients with known missed breast cancers,” Dr. Zuurbier shared.
“I liken it to looking at a Jackson Pollock painting, with all the splashes and splotches and dots,” Zuurbier explained. “If someone puts one new dot in, are you going to pick that up? I can go back later and find that new dot, though it’s sometimes difficult. But there are basic things you learn that you shouldn’t miss,” she explained.
Dr. Zuurbier agreed that Dr. Guilfoyle showed ineffectual performance. Dartmouth reported the concerns to the state’s medical board, which led to investigation of the radiologist’s misconduct. The case reached a settlement agreement after the investigation, and it was not even justifiable. Instead of revoking his license, the board only required Dr. Guilfoyle to pay a fine of $750 and be reprimanded. The judgment immensely displeased the patients who were victims of the radiologist’s malpractices.
Patricia Eddy expressed her disappointment and said, “What I wanted right from the get-go, I wanted his license. I was advocating for myself, but I was advocating for every other woman out there who was going to get a mammogram.” It was indeed a saddening conclusion, especially when many women would have received earlier treatments to fight breast cancer. Dr. Guilfoyle’s mistakes cost them a lot physically and financially.
What’s more concerning is that Dr. Guilfoyle’s profile on the New Hampshire Board website was not updated. His misconduct was hardly mentioned, as if the board deliberately took the issue lightly. Transparency is vital to future patients to know if they can trust the doctor. The hospital must understand that more patients might be at risk if they don’t take appropriate action against Dr. Guilfoyle. A fine of $750 isn’t enough to pay for the consequences of his mistakes, mainly when lives were on the line.
After the settlement, Dr. Guilfoyle can still practice radiology in Michigan, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Vermont, and Washington. The president of the New Hampshire medical board, Dr. Emily Baker, hasn’t released any statement.
According to the practicing obstetrician and gynecologist from Dartmouth Health, she doesn’t have the authority to relay messages for the agency. Dr. Guilfoyle might not be allowed to read X-rays and radiological images in New Hampshire, but he still gets to practice his profession. He is now currently working despite the impact he made on his former patients.Whizzco