WARNER ROBINS -- A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed in Bibb County Superior Court in relation to mammograms that were allegedly falsified at Perry Hospital.
The lawsuit was filed Monday by the administrator of the estate for Velma Riley, a 57-year-old teacher who died of breast cancer and shock in 2010, according to court documents.
The death marks the third related to allegations that a former radiology technician at Perry Hospital entered negative results for mammograms that were actually positive. Two of the other women who died were named in a 20-count Houston County indictment against Rachael Michelle Rapraeger, 31, of Macon, the former radiology technician for Perry Hospital. Riley was not named in the indictment.
The lawsuit was filed by Pamela Felder as next of kin and estate administrator against Houston Hospitals Inc., Houston Healthcare Systems, Perry Hospital, Rapraeger, Universal Radiology Consultants LLC, and Staff Care Inc.
Rapraeger was indicted by a Houston County grand jury Sept. 7, 2010, on 10 counts of felony computer forgery and 10 counts of misdemeanor reckless conduct. She is accused of entering negative results for 1,289 mammograms at Perry Hospital that were not read by a radiologist from Jan. 22, 2009, to April 1, 2010.
Of the 1,289, 10 of the mammograms entered as negative were actually positive, according to former Houston County prosecutors who originally took the case before a grand jury.
Between 2008 and 2009, Riley had a mammogram at Perry Hospital from which she received the results as normal, the lawsuit stated. April 1, 2010, the hospital claimed it became aware that Rapraeger had falsified Rileys mammogram result along with other reports, and Riley was asked to return for a repeat mammogram, according to court documents. That mammogram showed metastatic breast cancer, the lawsuit states.
The several months delay in diagnosis and treatment caused or accelerated the process of Rileys breast cancer and ultimately resulted in her death, the lawsuit alleged.
She suffered physical pain, discomfort and emotional distress until her death, the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit seeks a jury trial, damages in excess of $10,000, additional damages including punitive to be determined by jurors, medical and funeral expenses, attorneys fees and litigation costs.
Victor Moldovan, an Atlanta attorney representing Houston Healthcare, could not be reached immediately for comment. Perry Hospital is operated by Houston Healthcare. Neal Graham, one of the Macon attorneys representing Felder, could not be reached for comment.
Graham also represented another victim, Miriam Wheelus Mizell, 63, of Kathleen, who died. Mizell died Jan. 14 at the Heart of Georgia Hospice Inpatient Care after a long battle with cancer. In addition to being one of the victims named in a criminal case, Mizell was among four women who had filed lawsuits in Bibb County State Court. She settled out of court. The other lawsuits are pending.
Another victim who has died of the original 10 named in the indictment was Genevieve Cason Clough. Clough, 94, a homemaker, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother died Feb. 4 at Perry Hospital after a sudden illness, her obituary stated.
Her daughter, Joanelle Crosby of Perry, was with her mom the morning she died. Crosby believes Clough likely had a heart attack. Although hard to prove and not known for certain, Crosby believes the mental stress from the breast cancer and the pain it caused resulted in her mothers death.
Rapraeger, who is free on a $50,000 bond pending trial, maintains her innocence, Floyd Buford, a Macon attorney representing her on the criminal charges, has said. Houston County District Attorney George Hartwig could not be reached immediately for comment.