A man in central Iowa recently underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer, only to discover that he never really had cancer in the first place. Unfortunately, the surgery he underwent left him with debilitating side effects, including incontinence and other serious issues.
A man in central Iowa recently underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer, only to discover that he never really had cancer in the first place. Unfortunately, the surgery he underwent left him with debilitating side effects, including incontinence and other serious issues. Shortly after the incident, a pathologist with the Iowa Clinic admitted to “mixing up tissue sample slides from Huitt and another patient in January 2017.” It turns out, the pathologist, Joy Trueblood, “incorrectly reported which man’s prostate gland was cancerous.” As a result, the man, Rickie Lee Huitt, recently filed a lawsuit against the clinic.
Prior to the unnecessary surgery, Carl Meyer, Huitt’s urologist, read the pathologist’s report and informed Huitt that he “had a serious case of prostate cancer.” To treat the cancer, Meyer “removed Huitt’s prostate in April 2017 during an operation at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.” Then, after the surgery, a different pathologist studied Huitt’s prostate and “found no cancer,” according to attorney Randy Shanks. Shanks is representing Huitt in the case. When commenting on what his client went through, Shanks said, “It’s mind-boggling. It’s a terrible, sad thing.”
During an interview regarding the suit, Ed Brown, the Iowa Clinic’s chief executive officer said the “medical practice wants to resolve the lawsuit in mediation.”
How did such a mix-up occur, though? Well, to help clarify what happened, Trueblood “explained to lawyers how she believed the mix-up happened.” According to her, a “barcode scanner used to match test slides with patient records apparently read the bar code from the wrong patient’s form in a stack of papers.” As a result, she accidentally listed the “findings of cancer on the wrong patient’s report.” She added that, in the deposition, the “scanner glitch had happened a few previous times during the thousands of cases she’d handled over about 10 years, but she had caught the previous errors.”
In response to the lawsuit, Amy Hilmes, a spokeswoman for Iowa Clinic, issued the following statement:
“In 2017, one of our patients underwent unnecessary surgery because his normal pathology result was not correctly entered into his medical chart. Once alerted about the situation, we immediately apologized to the patient and implemented changes to make certain such a mistake would not happen again. The pathologist involved in this case continues to be troubled and saddened that her oversight meant a patient faced unnecessary surgery, exposure to anesthesia, and complications during recovery. We have been working to resolve this matter with the patient and his attorney for the past 12 months. Unfortunately, we have yet to reach acceptable terms. The Iowa Clinic recognizes the enormous trust patients and families place in our physicians and staff. We understand that trust is earned every day.”
The suit was filed in Polk County District Court in 2017 and is scheduled to go to trial on April 1.