An NHS Hospital Trust has issued an “unreserved apology” after mistakenly sending a patient with an injured shoulder for a testicle scan.
The Express reports that father-of-three Paul Clegg, who lost his wife to cancer, found himself at the centre of a health scare after the mix-up. Although he protested that he was there for a shoulder scan, staff at Barbara Castle Way Health Centre in Blackburn, northern England, insisted he must have his testicles scanned, leading Mr Clegg to worry he had cancer.
“Even after I questioned it, the staff were adamant that I was there for my testicles,” he said.
“They checked through all my information, including my address and GP details, and sat me down and said clearly that I was there for that reason.
“They really tried to convince me, and when they left me in this side room I was genuinely thinking I could have cancer and there was something seriously wrong.
“It was the worst 30 minutes of my life. I lost my wife to cancer when she was only 40 and I was actually thinking of getting up and running out I was so scared.
“It was like impending doom and the nurses could see how distressed I was.”
Mr Clegg later made a formal complaint and received an explanation from the East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, saying that the “rare” mistake was caused by the way doctors order radiology tests on an electronic system, which then led to a “human error”.
Their letter added: “On this occasion, there was a request on the list for ultrasound tests for a patient with very similar details to you.
“On selecting a patient from the list, the clerical officer made an error and selected your name. I would like to assure you that the correct patient has since been contacted and had their appointment.
“Unfortunately, as demonstrated here, manual intervention can lead to human error on a rare occasion.”
Mr Clegg was not satisfied with this “blasé” response, however, as they did not seem to realise how badly shaken he had been from the experience.
“They didn’t seem to think it was serious. They acted pretty blasé about it, saying it was just a simple mistake, but I’m sorry – I don’t accept there should be an element of human error when it comes to healthcare, just like there shouldn’t be when it comes to aircraft engineering.”
“And it just makes you wonder how many times this sort of thing is happening, as it could have serious consequences if someone is given the wrong medication or operation,” he added.
The trust’s chief nurse, Christine Pearson, has now offered Mr Clegg an “unreserved apology”.