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Medical tech admits telling hundreds of women mammograms were negative — when 10 actually had cancer

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Rachael Rapraeger told the patients that their mammograms yielded negative results when a doctor had never reviewed them. (CNN)

(CNN) — A former Georgia hospital technician was sentenced to up to six months in prison after pleading guilty to manipulating the mammogram records of 1,289 patients. Ten of those women were given false negatives, and two of them are now dead, a prosecutor says.

Rachael Rapraeger told the patients at Perry Hospital that their mammograms yielded negative results when a doctor had never reviewed them, according to court documents.

“You played Russian roulette with the lives of essentially a thousand women in this community,” Houston County Superior Judge Katherine Lumsden told the 33-year-old Macon woman during sentencing on Tuesday.

One victim, Sharon Holmes, to whom Rapraeger gave a false mammogram result in December 2009, found out two months later that she had breast cancer and that it had spread to her lymph nodes, CNN affiliate WMAZ reported.

Her cancer has been in remission for three years, the station reported, but that didn’t mitigate her displeasure with Rapraeger. Holmes told WMAZ she wanted Rapraeger to know, “I’m not a name on a piece of paper; I’m a person.”

Holmes had a chance to speak directly to Rapraeger in court, reading from a prepared statement, “You could have made a different decision, and my family and I would not be living this nightmare.”

Rapraeger also received 10 years of probation and a $12,500 fine, according to the sentencing sheet. She also won’t be allowed to hold any job in the health care field for 10 years, the sheet says.

Although Rapraeger initially pleaded not guilty, she accepted a deal in which she pleaded guilty to 10 counts of misdemeanor reckless conduct and one count of felony computer forgery.

The felony will be wiped from her record if she doesn’t “violate the terms and conditions of the sentence,” said Dan Bibler, deputy assistant district attorney.

Rapraeger will remain free on $50,000 bond, possibly for several weeks until a bed is available at a yet-to-be-determined state probation-detention facility, defense attorney Frank Buford said.

He called the sentence “very fair” and said his client takes responsibility for her crimes and is remorseful that people suffered. Explaining why Rapraeger told so many patients their mammograms were negative, Buford said Rapraeger became overburdened at work and was only trying to please her bosses.

“She just got behind in her work and wanted to try and get caught up,” the attorney said. “She made a poor decision to start entering negative reports just so she could keep up. She didn’t want to fall behind on her work requirements.”

Holmes told WMAZ she was not happy with the sentencing.

“If I’m living a sentence of having cancer then you should live a sentence also: behind bars,” she told the station.

One victim who wasn’t able to opine on the sentence is Miriam Mizell, who died of breast cancer in January 2012 at age 63.

In a September 2010 interview, she told WMAZ that Rapraeger had informed her that her mammogram had come back clean in 2008. In spring of 2010, however, Mizell got a call saying she had been randomly selected to receive a free mammogram, she told the station. That test came back positive, WMAZ reported.

“I was lied to from the beginning,” Mizell told the station.

Asked about Mizell’s allegation, Houston Healthcare, which operates Perry Hospital, responded with only a short statement from CEO Cary Martin.

“Notification efforts to the impacted patients commenced April 2010 and continued to completion or resource exhaustion in the ensuing months,” Martin said.

TM & © 2014 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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  • Lisa

    Oh look another person that gets to get away with murder. Who freaking cares if she remorseful. She Killed People! She also gave other people death sentences because with cancer it's never a guarantee that you can get rid of it!!! She should be in prison for murder not on 6 months probation!!!!

  • Kris

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!?! PROBATION?!?! This woman, at the LEAST, should be put behind bars for life…with NO medical care and NO attention to her needs!! That’s what she have her victims! But, really…she should be put down like an f’n rabid dog!!

  • Holly

    This woman should be charged with two counts of negligent homicide at the very least, and at least eight counts of reckless endangerment, not to mention charges for the other 1,279 people who COULD have had cancer. She should also NEVER be allowed to work in the medical field again, ANYWHERE!! It makes me sick to think that one woman's ineptness at her job and her attempt to hide that ineptness could cause so many lives to be horribly effected and she not be held COMPLETELY responsible! Her sentence is a joke and the comment from Houston Healthcare's Cary Martin sounds like a generic, rehearsed response, devoid of any compassion, that they could apply to any situation. They should also be held responsible as well and I hope the families all sue the living crap out of them.

  • Jennifer

    Only 6 months they should let the families she lied too have at her. If it was my mom who she lied too I’d get a bat and beat her until she was black and blue all over.

  • Rachel Humphrey

    Wow,I just wonder though she should have told them I wonder why the front desk didn't ask about future appointments or the Doctor or pray tech. She's only the messenger… though I'm shocked she only got 6months.

  • froggywoman

    Oh wow six months for KILLING women with her lies. She should be charged with murder and should be in prison for life. Also, are you freaking kidding me ten years with no job in the medical field? How about a lifetime with no job in the medical field! She should never be allowed a job in the medical field again! The only jobs she should be allowed is either garbage collector or a job in a sewage treatment plant because that is what she is, a piece of garbage and a piece of crap. She's doesn't even deserve to be called human.

  • sugarplum

    That "sentence" was ludicrously light. Is the judge brain dead? Why didn't the prosecutor charge he with, at the very least, negligent homicide? People go to jail longer for stealing a car…even a teenaged thief… so why does a grown woman get off this lightly for this atrocity? She should do a minimum of 20 years, and never work in the healthcare system in any capacity. What a worthless, criminal, cruel hunk of humanity.

  • Mairi Campbell

    This is a disgrace. If she had done her job there is a good chance those two women that are now deceased would still be with their families. At the very least she should be facing two counts of negligent homicide and eight counts or more of reckless endangerment. She should never be allowed to work in the medical field again. I hope that the families of those women that have passed as well as the other women who are now fighting cancer all sue her for what she did. And at this point possible toss the judge in too for good measure since the judges ruling is just as horrendous as what this horrid woman did to those women by lying to them. This is just more proof that our great country is in dire need of a change the current path it is on is not a good one, not when things like this are only getting people a slap on the wrist.