St Mary's Hospital

An Isle of Wight man was mistakenly told he had cancer after his test results were mixed up with those of another patient.

He lived with the colon cancer diagnosis for months, and it was only after repeated tests and hospital appointments that he was told it was a mistake.

In a letter, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the Isle of Wight NHS Trust confirmed the error and apologised.

It said:

“The original biopsies that were taken showing cancer were from stomach mucosa rather than the colon and therefore were from a different patient.

“This appears to be due to a mix up between specimens in our laboratory between yourself and a patient who has been diagnosed with stomach cancer.

“I can fully confirm we have found no evidence of cancer in yourself.

“I would like to sincerely apologise for this mix-up and for the additional and unnecessary tests we have put you through as a result.

“I would also like to apologise for the resulting stress this has caused to you and your family over the last few months.”

The letter was dated March 3 — almost four months after the man, who has asked not to be named, was told he had colon cancer.

The Isle of Wight NHS Trust said the error came to light after subsequent tests to investigate the cancer revealed the initial diagnosis was incorrect and was due to a processing error in the Southampton laboratory.

The trust said the other patient, who did have cancer, was not affected. It said that person was correctly diagnosed with stomach cancer at the time and had immediately started treatment.

Director of acute services at the trust, Nikki Turner, said:

“I am very sorry for the distress and anxiety this has caused for the man and his family and friends.

“We launched an immediate serious incident investigation to find out what went wrong, which shows this was an isolated incident that has not happened before and no-one else is affected.”

By Megan Baynes, Local Democracy Reporter