At the Kepler University Clinic in Linz (KUK), a patient’s healthy prostate was mistakenly removed because the suspected cancer tissue samples from two men were mixed up. The “Kronen Zeitung” reported on Sunday. In a statement by the KUK it was said that there was currently no clarity as to how and where this interchanging of the tissue samples could occur. For clarification, the KUK sent a statement of the facts to the Linz public prosecutor.
Clinic regrets incident
“We regret this incident and have of course already informed the two affected patients about the exchange in personal discussions,” said the Medical Director of the Kepler University Hospital, Karl-Heinz Stadlbauer, in a press release on Sunday. Treatment was resumed for the patient with the actual tumor diagnosis.
Cause of confusion still unclear
It is currently unclear where the mix-up occurred. That is still the subject of a precise analysis and processing, was explained by the university clinic. “In November 2020, prostate biopsies (tissue samples, note) were performed on two patients with suspected prostate carcinoma. The samples were sent to a specialized pathology department in Erlangen (Germany) for diagnosis,” explained the clinic’s board member for urology and andrology, Frens-Steffen Krause.
Both patients had prostate cancer
The results from Erlangen had shown that one of the two patients suffered from prostate cancer, but the other showed no abnormalities in the biopsy. On January 19, 2021, the patient was operated on with the alleged cancer diagnosis. “After the operation – as is usual in such cases – the removed tissue parts were again pathologically examined. This revealed a discrepancy to the original biopsy result, which indicated a sample swap,” said Krause.
Follow-up examination brought clarity
The second sample, with which the exchange must have taken place, could only be identified on the basis of the follow-up examination and meticulous processing at the Institute for Pathology at the Kepler University Hospital. In order to substantiate this suspicion, the required tissue samples were once again sent to Erlangen for verification. “On the evening of March 24, 2021, the suspicion that the samples must have been swapped was confirmed by the pathological institute in Erlangen,” was declared in the broadcast from the Kepler University Hospital.
Who is responsible for the mix-up?
There is currently no clarity as to how and where this interchanging of the tissue samples could occur. “The very precisely described and documented processes have so far not revealed any sources of error in the Kepler University Clinic,” said the KUK. It can therefore not be determined with final certainty whether the exchange could have taken place at the Kepler University Hospital or at the University of Erlangen.
After the operated man had been informed about the events, his joy at first outweighed the fact that he was not suffering from cancer, can be read in the “Krone” report. He had been informed about the legal channels for compensation.