A New Jersey hospital has admitted that it transplanted a kidney into the wrong patient, CNN reports. Both the patient who wrongly got the kidney, and the one it was intended for, are doing well, hospital authorities say.
Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden is the only hospital in southern New Jersey to offer transplant services, according to the medical center’s website. It was there that two patients, both in need of transplanted kidneys, were hospitalized.
Due to the way the kidney-transplant process is managed, some patients are considered higher priority than others, whether due to their age, medical condition, family situation, or other factors. As it turns out, a higher-priority patient was somehow “inadvertently transplanted out of priority order,” according to a statement from the hospital.
What that means is that a 51-year-old patient, who was considered to be a lower-priority transplant recipient, was given a kidney that was meant for another, higher-priority patient.
Dr. Reginald Blaber, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Virtua Health, admitted that this was a major failure on the hospital’s part.
“This is an unprecedented event in our respected 40-plus-year transplant program,” he said.
Fortunately, the patient who inadvertently received the kidney meant for another patient is doing well. As for the higher-priority patient, he or she received a different donor kidney days later. They are doing fine as well.
“Mistakes of this magnitude are rare, and despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error,” Dr. Blaber said.
The hospital notified the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, as well as the New Jersey Department of Health, which investigated the incident.
Dr. Blaber said that his institution has re-evaluated its procedures to make sure a mistake like this won’t be repeated.
“As an organization committed to safety and process, we immediately instituted additional measures and educational reinforcement to help ensure this does not happen again,” he said.
As previously reported by The Inquisitr, medical errors, which in the field are considered malpractice, account for an untold number of deaths and/or illnesses in hospitals across the U.S. Actual figures are hard to pin down, but in 2013 it was estimated by the Journal of Patient Safety that between 200,000-400,000 patients who visit hospitals are in some way or another subjected to undue harm due to medical mistakes.
According to the National Foundation for Transplants, 114,000 patients are on transplant waiting lists, with 95 percent of those waiting for a kidney or liver.