Man Incorrectly Diagnosed With Cancer Endures Surgery While Another Patient With The Disease Goes Untreated

Being told you have cancer is a frightening, nerve-wracking ordeal, but unnecessarily undergoing surgery to remedy a disease that doesn’t even exist is unfathomable.

Even worse is being the patient who was led to believe he didn’t have cancer, but really did, and missed out on urgent treatments.

Iowan Rickie Lee Huitt was told by his urologist Carl Meyer that he had a serious case of prostate cancer and had only five years to live if he didn’t have an operation. The 67-year-old underwent surgery to remove his prostate, reported the Des Moines Register.

Afterward, Huitt suffered from incontinence and other significant side effects from the surgery. As a precaution, Huitt’s prostate was evaluated after it was removed and that’s when doctors discovered he didn’t have cancer.

“It’s mind blogging. It’s a terrible, sad thing,” said Huitt’s attorney Randy Shanks.

Pathologist Joy Trueblood with the Iowa Clinic accidentally mixed up tissue sample slides between Huitt and another patient. She incorrectly reported that the man’s prostate gland was cancerous.

In court records, Trueblood explained to attorneys during mediation that a barcode scanner used to match test slides with patient records read a bar code from the wrong patient’s form. This had happened a few times before in the past 10 years that she’d used the scanner, but she had always caught the mistake.

When Huitt’s attorney asked her why she did not catch it this time, she responded, “I don’t have any idea.”

“I’m responsible — it was a horrible situation,” Trueblood testified in court documents.

The Iowa Clinic released a statement to KCCI that once the medical practice was made aware of the situation, it immediately apologized to the patient.

“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 Iowa Clinic said.

“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.”

KCCI was told by The Iowa Clinic that the patient who actually had cancer had been notified and given appropriate treatment.

The Des Moines Register reported that The Iowa Clinic is owned by approximately 140 physicians. The Iowa Clinic has faced scrutiny in the past, facing an unrelated lawsuit filed by three urologists who claimed they were unjustly fired. Five other urologists subsequently submitted resignations afterward.