Patient's stomach wrongly removed in name confusion

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 11, 2014
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Surgeons in Yueqing, Zhejiang Province, have mistakenly removed two thirds of a senior aged woman's stomach, because the woman had the same name as another person who was up for the operation.

The victim, Chen has not been told about the mistake because her family members said she was still too weak. Her son-in-law Wang said that Chen had stomach pains and went to Yueqing People's Hospital to be examined.

As they are both illiterate, Chen and her husband did not know what the report said and didn't notice anything wrong. But her children noticed the word "cancer" on the report and hurried to seek further information from doctors, who advised them to arrange an operation as soon as possible.

The surgeons did not know they had operated on the wrong patient until the person who really had the tumor, who was eight years younger than Chen, came to retrieve her report and was told it was missing.

Nan Xiaohao, deputy dean of the medical affairs office at Yueqing People's Hospital, explained that the mistake was due to carelessness because two patients with identical names went for the same stomach endoscope exam on the same day.

He added there were indeed flaws with the process, since the hospital could not demand all patients show their IDs when retrieving medical reports. "Elderly people cannot come to get the reports by themselves; and the simplified process was meant to save trouble," he said.

Wang questioned the hospital's excuse, saying there are many people with the same name and "it is the hospital's responsibility to prevent such mistakes." He also said he was unsure whether No.2 Hospital affiliated to Wenzhou Medical University, the one that operated on Chen, should also be held responsible.

Dr. Zheng Zhiqiang, the surgeon who performed the operation, insisted he was strictly following procedures. He said the mistaken biopsy showed Chen "had cancer." "If a patient questions the biopsy result, we offer another gastroscopy for review. Otherwise, we directly accept what the biopsy says," said Dr. Zheng.

He added he "definitely didn't think it was a mistaken report because such things have never happened in the past."

Nan has declined to accept any responsibility, saying a legal process is required in the investigation since an agreement on financial compensation had not been reached with Chen's family members.

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