Yikes. Surgeons at a hospital in Yueqing, Zhejiang province wrongly removed two-thirds of a woman’s perfectly good stomach because she had the same name as another patient who was meant to have the operation, China.org reports.
The senior-aged patient in question, surnamed Chen, had originally gone to Yueqing People’s Hospital to be examined after complaining about stomach pains, according to her son-in-law, Wang.
As Chen and her husband are both illiterate, they didn’t know what the doctor’s report said, but when their children saw the word “cancer” on it, they rushed to speak to doctors who advised immediate arrangements for an operation.
The surgeons performed the operation and didn’t realize anything was wrong until the person with the tumor who was meant to have the operation came to retrieve her report and was told that it was missing.
Nan Xiaohao, deputy dean of medical affairs at the hospital, said that the mistake was the result of carelessness and coincidence, as the two patients with identical names went to have the same stomach endoscope exam on the same day.
Wang said that because many people walk into hospitals with the same name, “it is the hospital’s responsibility to prevent such mistakes,” but Nan refuses to accept any responsibility.
Dr. Zheng Zhiqiang, the surgeon who performed on Chen, also insisted that he was just following procedures because the biopsy showed that the patient had cancer and he would never assume that this was a mistake. “If a patient questions the biopsy result, we offer another gastroscopy for review. Otherwise, we directly accept what the biopsy says”. He didn’t question it because “such things have never happened in the past.”
Nan said that a legal process is still required in the investigation as the financial compensation for Chen has not been decided upon.
Slightly similar and equally unsettling incidents have happened in the past as the result of carelessness on the behalf of medical staff. Last year, a patient at a Beijing hospital died when he was given an IV drip with another person’s name on it. A woman in Hong Kong last May was given a heart from a donor with type AB blood, although her type was A—a mistake that should have been easily avoided as “Checking the blood type information is basic; it’s like asking for the patient’s name to make sure it’s the right patient before consultation or surgery,” according to the chief executive for hospitals in west Hong Kong.
According to today’s report, Chen has not yet been told about the mistake as her family members say she’s still too weak.
[Image Credit: Alex E. Proimos]