Judge Fines Lab for Deaths Due to Misread Pap Smears

Milwaukee circuit Judge David Hansher hit a medical lab Thursday with the maximum $20,000 fine for misreading the Pap smears of two women who subsequently died of cervical cancer. The judge said the maximum fine for the 1993 deaths of Dolores Geary and Karin Smith was “absolutely inadequate” and asked lawmakers to set tougher penalties.

The women’s numerous tests from 1987 to 1990 were sent to Chem-Bio Corp. by their HMO, Family Health Plan, and were all handled by the same technologist, June S. Fricano. An expert reviewed the test slides, stating that cancer signs were obvious and that the women would have had up to a 95 percent chance of survival if they were properly read.

The Geary family and the Smith family sued the lab, the HMO, Fricano, the lab owner and others, settling for $3.5 million and $6.3 million, respectively.

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