Rachael Rapraeger, a hospital technician responsible for dealing with mammogram reports, pleaded guilty earlier this month to 10 misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct and one felony charge of computer forgery.
The Associated Press reported that she was sentenced to serve up to six months in a detention center, 10 years on probation during which she can’t work in the health care field, and to pay a $12,500 fine.
The reasons she gave for falsifying the reports were not clear. She told police that her personal issues had caused her to stop caring about her job. Because she had fallen behind processing the huge piles of mammogram films she entered the hospital’s computer system, assumed the identities of physicians, and gave each patient a clear reading.
By taking this action she was able to avoid the time-consuming paperwork required before the films were brought for radiologists to examine, according to the information given by her lawyer, Floyd Buford, to the AP.
What she did was only discovered by accident in April 2010 when a patient who she had cleared, had a second mammogram at another hospital where breast cancer was found.
When the hospital started to investigate it discovered that he doctor whose name was on the faulty report had not even been at the hospital the day the report was filed. When confronted, Rapraeger owned up to her supervisor that she was responsible, and was fired from her job about a week later.
Rapraeger admitted to police that she knew what she had done wasn’t right, but that she didn’t consider the consequences. Her attorney claims that Rapraeger feels great remorse about any pain that she caused.
Sara Bailey, 80, one of the patients who received a false report, had to have a breast removed as the cancer had progressed beyond the point where a more limited procedure would have been possible.
Although the surgery was successful Bailey is still bitter: “I’m not hurting and I don’t think I have cancer, but I’m not a woman anymore.”
Bailey considers that the sentence Rapraeger received was like a slap on the wrist, and she plans to campaign against the re-election of Houston Judicial Circuit District Attorney George Hartwig.
Hartwig said he understands how Bailey feels but: “Given the entirety of the case and the issues that were there, I really feel like we did the best we could do to get a measure of justice for these women.”
Irrespective of the sentence, Rachael Rapraeger has to live with her conscience and consider what effect she has had on the lives of hundreds of women.