Manuel Barros has to wear adult diapers for the rest of his life due to his incontinence. In addition, he suffers from erectile dysfunction—another side effect of the prostate surgery that he underwent in March. Nevertheless, Barros says that he could have dealt with both of these life changing health problems; that is, if he hadn’t gotten devastating news from his doctor soon after undergoing surgery on his prostate.
Back in November 2009, Barros received notice from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that he had prostate cancer. However, the pathologist who analyzed his slides had made a mistake. The doctor who performed the prostate surgery on called to inform Barros of the news: the hospital had mistaken his slides for another patient who did have prostate cancer. Barros was devastated, and his attorney, Andrew C. Meyer, Jr., subsequently filed a lawsuit against Beth Israel on his behalf.
Sadly, swapped lab results aren’t as uncommon as we would hope. For example, Thomas Cloutman also had a biopsy of his prostate last year, and had his specimen analyzed by Strata Pathology Services. His results came back negative, much to his relief. About eight months later Cloutman had his biopsy examined at a second lab after receiving an “apologetic” letter from Strata admitting that his slides had been mistaken for someone else’s slides. Sadly, the second set of results revealed that he had cancer after all. Cloutman immediately had surgery after learning of the new results, but doctors found that the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He is now weighing the possibility of radiation treatment. Andrew C. Meyer also recently filed suit on behalf of Cloutman.
In recent years, hospitals have come under fire for other serious medical mistakes such as operations on the wrong body parts, or medical instruments left inside the body after surgery. But biopsy mix-ups represent yet another medical mistake that can have devastating consequences for patients. According to Andrew C. Meyer, the attorney representing both Barros and Cloutman, patients often make the mistake of assuming that the information given to them is accurate. Unfortunately, they assume that if they’re doctor tells them something, it’s accurate.
I have written several blogs that will help you to learn how to protect yourself from serious medical mistakes. For example, check out my blog on wrong-site surgeries as well as my blog on the importance of getting a second opinion to protect yourself from falling victim of medical mistakes.