Injured People

Legal update: Major mammogram review in South Australia

TGB Partner Tim White writes about the potential legal action that may arise from the review of thousands of breast cancer scans in South Australia.


54,000 South Australian women will have their mammograms reviewed with concerns that some cancers may have been missed. Read a media report here 

Firstly, it is important to recognise that this is a terrible position to be in for these women. Those waiting to hear more would be extremely anxious about this situation and we hope for as many positive outcomes as possible. 

The investigation into what caused the potential oversight with detecting positive cancer results during the period of September 2010 until June 2012 has only just begun. 

Until more information is forthcoming it is difficult to say what legal recourse is exactly available to the affected women. 

However, if it is revealed that there was clearly an obvious error or errors in the scanning process, the reporting on the scans or another process breakdown there is a potential negligence claim available to those subsequently diagnosed with cancer. 

It will be necessary to show that an individual’s injury and/or condition has been made worse as a direct result of an oversight by the authorities and further, that the women involved are now worse off as a result of the delayed diagnosis of any cancer or other health problem. 

Clearly we are dealing with a very significant medical condition, cancer, which can be life threatening. Women may go onto develop cancer that involves significant medical treatment to try and remove or resolve it. That treatment could include surgery and/or chemotherapy. 

Depending on the seriousness of the cancer there could be considerable compensation payable. That would include cover for lost income, medical expenses, pain and suffering, anxiety, disfigurement and surgery costs. 

This has the potential to cause significant health problems to a large number of South Australian women. 


Our firm has already been contacted by the husband of a woman who had a mammogram in May 2012, and no cancer was detected. However, a significant lump was discovered just four months later. The woman saw a specialist, who immediately launched a chemotherapy program in an attempt to reduce the size of the tumour. It was unsuccessful. At the time of writing, the woman was preparing to undergo a mastectomy. This is a terrible and hopefully rare example. 

Author: Tim White

Women with concerns should consult their doctor, contact an information line on 8366 0266 between 8am and 7pm, or visit

The Cancer Council SA hotline 132200 has trained nurses offering advice.

To register interest in potential legal action click here or contact Partner Tim White on (08) 8212 1077.

Click here for media coverage.

*Permission was granted by the couple to share this example