TOKAI, Aichi -- A public hospital here erroneously removed two-thirds of an ulcer patient's stomach after mixing up cell samples of the patient and another person who had stomach cancer, hospital officials said.
As a result of the mix-up, the Nishichita General Hospital in Tokai ended up releasing the cancer patient without performing necessary stomach surgery.
Masahiko Asano, director of the hospital, and other officials made the announcement at a news conference on June 21.
"We'll sincerely respond to the patients and their families. We'll step up efforts to prevent such mishaps," Asano said. The hospital has since apologized to the affected patients and their families and presented measures to prevent a recurrence.
The stomach ulcer patient in his 50s is undergoing treatment as an outpatient, while the stomach cancer patient in his 80s was subsequently rushed to the hospital and then transferred to another medical institution.
The blunder occurred at the hospital in early April 2017. The medical staff took samples of stomach cells from both patients on the same day, and conducted pathological examinations of the samples the following day.
Doctors diagnosed the patient in his 50s with stomach cancer and removed two-thirds of his stomach in an operation performed in late May, but the removed part of the stomach was found not cancerous. Another test also found no cancer cells.
In response, the hospital convened an in-house accident investigation committee to conduct a probe and confirmed that the hospital mistook cell samples taken from the cancer patient in his 80s for those of the ulcer patient.
The samples taken from both patients were kept in two separate white containers and the containers were then placed in separate bottles with labels showing their names and patient numbers.
However, when workers took the containers out of the bottles to move them into green containers for examinations, an employee responsible for clinical testing put them into the wrong containers. The patients' names were reportedly not written down on the white containers.