Scandal as two patients die from breast cancer and ten more diagnosed after technician gave negative results to 1,289 patients because she was 'behind in work'

  • Rachel Rapraeger told authorities she was had a personal issues that caused her to be disinterested in her job so she became backlogged
  • To catch up, the 33-year-old entered more than 1,200 mammogram results as negative without a doctor's review
  • Of those 1,289 test results, 10 of the patients had breast cancer and were not informed
  • Two of those patients have since died of the disease
  • On Tuesday, Rapraeger copped to a plea deal and agreed to serve six months in prison and ten years of probation
  • She will have to pay a $12,500 fine and will not be allowed to work in the health field for a decade

By Associated Press and Ashley Collman


A former radiology technician whose 'disinterest in her job' caused 10 patients to receive false negative mammograms was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison and a decade of probation.

Rachel Rapraeger of Macon, Georgia told authorities that she had 'personal issues that caused her to be disinterested in her job' and that caused a backlog in her work. To catch up, she entered more than 1,200 clean test results, even though a doctor never looked at the scans. 

Of those total 1,289 women screened for breast cancer at Perry Hospital, 10 actually had the deadly disease and were never informed. Two of those 10 victims have since died.

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Playing Russian Roulette: Ex-radiology technician Rachel Rapraeger, 33 (pictured), was sentenced to six months in prison and a decade of probation Tuesday after giving out more then 1,200 clean mammogram results without a doctor's review

Playing Russian Roulette: Ex-radiology technician Rachel Rapraeger, 33 (pictured), was sentenced to six months in prison and a decade of probation Tuesday after giving out more then 1,200 clean mammogram results without a doctor's review

On Tuesday, Rapraeger agreed to a plea deal which includes six months in prison, ten years of probation, a $12,5000 fine and she won't be able to work in the health field for a decade.

Judge Katherine Lumsden adressed several of the victims seated in the front row of court on Tuesday, saying there was no sentence that would fix what Rapraeger did.

'You played Russian roulette with the lives of essentially a thousand women in this community,' Judge Lumsden then told Rapraeger.

Some of the victims were also given the opportunity to address Raraeger in court.

Sharon Holmes was one of the victims who chose to spoke. She received a negative test result in December 2009 but then found out two months later that she had breast cancer and it had already spread to her lymph nodes.

Victims: Of the more than 1,200 clean results Rapraeger gave out, 10 patients actually had breast cancer and didn't know it. Some of the victims attended her sentencing on Tuesday and sat in the front row

Victims: Of the more than 1,200 clean results Rapraeger gave out, 10 patients actually had breast cancer and didn't know it. Some of the victims attended her sentencing on Tuesday and sat in the front row

Sharon Holmes was one of the victims to address Rapraeger in court Tuesday. Ms Holmes received a flase negative mammogram in December 2009, but found out just a few months later that she had breast cancer and that the disease had already spread to her lymph nodes

Sharon Holmes was one of the victims to address Rapraeger in court Tuesday. Ms Holmes received a flase negative mammogram in December 2009, but found out just a few months later that she had breast cancer and that the disease had already spread to her lymph nodes

'You could have made a different decision and my family and I would not be living this nightmare,' Ms Holmes said.

Ms Holmes says it took courage to address Rapraeger, but she wanted to make sure her story was heard and she wasn't just another number.

'I'm not a name on a piece of paper, I'm a person, and I think she will remember me.' Ms Holmes told WMAZ.

Two of the victims ended up dying of breast cancer before they could see Rapraeger behind bars. Pictured above is Miriam Mizell who died in January 2012 in a photo posted on Facebook

Two of the victims ended up dying of breast cancer before they could see Rapraeger behind bars. Pictured above is Miriam Mizell who died in January 2012 in a photo posted on Facebook

Ms Holmes considers herself a survivor and has been in remission for three years, but is still not pleased with Tuesday's decision.

'If I'm living a sentence for having cancer then you should live a sentence behind bars,' Ms Holmes said.

Two victims were not as lucky as Holmes and died after getting their false negatives.

One of those victims was Miriam Mizell who died of breast cancer at the age of 63 in January 2012.

In a September 2010 interview with WMAZ, she said her mammogram came back clean in 2008 and two years later she received an offer of a free mammogram.

She took up the offer and the test came back positive

'I was lied to from the beginning,' Ms Mizell then said.

Rapraeger's attorney explained that his client entered the false negatives because she was overwhelmed and overworked.  

'She had too much work, and she was getting behind. She wanted to keep up,' attorney Floyd Buford said.

Rapraeger's attorney said part of the reason his client decided to take the plea deal was that the prosecution didn't have enough evidence to convict her since the hospital had destroyed her computer and hard drive.

 

Rapraeger was not taken into custody Tuesday, and remains free on $50,000 bail while she waits for a bed to open up at a probation detention center.

'I think it's a fair sentence based on what happened and based on her cooperation in this case,' said Daniel Bibler, the deputy chief assistant district attorney.

Mr Buford added , 'She's going to be paying a price, but even without that she's very remorseful.'

Rapraeger's victims underwent screening for breast cancer at Perry Hospital in Georgia

Rapraeger's victims underwent screening for breast cancer at Perry Hospital in Georgia


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Hope everyone who has been screened at this hospital recently runs and gets a second opinion.

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As far as I'm concerned, she deserves life in prison. She could work in the infirmary.

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Six months is more than most incompetent doctors get. The difficulty in this case was a result of the hospital admin destroying the hard drive from her computer and the computer as well. Are the admins responsible for that crime being charged as well?

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Two people died...How is this not negligent homicide?

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I'm a cancer survivor and this makes me angry. Results should be double and triple checked before they are released to the patient. She basically killed 2 people and endangered the lives of others but she's getting away with a six month sentence? Shameful.

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The hospital should held accountable for tampering with evidence when they destroyed her computer and hard drive.

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How can you live with yourself after that. What a selfish, horrible woman. Those women needlessy died and I have no doubt probably others will too.

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She knew the implications of her actions. She was basically sentencing people to death. Six months is not an adequate sentence.

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It seems like a radiologist would have to look at and sign a report on all mammograms. A technician is not usually responsible for a report. They just take the films. ??

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Unforgiveable! I discovered a lump myself even though my previous mammogram came back clear. When my surgeon asked for the old film we saw the lump had been there all along. The docto/radiologist who misread my mammogram was 70+ years old & overworked. I was stage 3, multiple tumors & 9/18 lymph nodes were positive for cancer. I sued him and learned during the court case that 2 other women had died due to error on his part. I lost 9 months in precious time while the cancer grew but am happy to report it's 12 years later and I am fine.

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