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A Windsor, Ont., hospital has launched an investigation after one of its renowned surgeons mistakenly performed a mastectomy on a patient who did not have cancer.

Barbara Heartwell, a surgeon at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital misread a pathology report and performed the prescheduled mastectomy last fall. The diagnosis did not match a pre-surgery pathology report that said the tumour was benign, the hospital said in a statement.

The patient, whose identity hasn't been released because of hospital confidentiality rules, learned of the mistake in a follow-up appointment.

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Officials apologized yesterday for what they're calling a "serious error."

Dr. Heartwell, whom the hospital said has successfully performed this surgery on thousands of women in the Windsor area, is on vacation and will be monitored when she returns to work.

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