A woman from New Zealand who had part of her jaw removed after she was wrongly diagnosed with mouth cancer is now struggling to walk.
The 63-year-old, who has not been identified, is seeking compensation from the University of Otago Dental Hospital in Dunedin, after the unnecessary operation left her with a series of health problems.
The misdiagnosis reportedly occurred when a laboratory worker confused two tissue samples that were dropped on the floor, according to the Otago Daily Times.
The woman, who was suffering from sinus infections and facial swelling from a tooth implant, was told that she had mouth cancer and that she would need to have the right side of her upper jaw removed.
Bone and blood vessels were taken from her lower leg and used to reconstruct her jaw, which led to complications, according to the newspaper.
“Her donor wound site got infected and she had difficulty walking,” Dr. Iain Wilson, the surgeon who conducted the operation, said.
It later transpired that the patient’s tissue sample had no signs of cancer and that the test results were mixed up.
“I am being asked to believe two samples were being processed simultaneously and the pots were simultaneously dropped,” Dr. Iain Wilson said.
“I can’t for the life of me understand how you can get tissue samples mixed up. I am astonished and horrified by these lab mix-ups.”
The hospital has since apologized to the woman and the case is being investigated by New Zealand’s Health and Disability Commission.
“We have taken this incident very seriously, and have already taken all appropriate measures to minimize the likelihood of any such incidents occurring again,” university faculty of medicine dean Prof. Peter Crampton said.
“The patient was contacted very soon after the incident was discovered, and we offered a full apology at that time.”