2 Patients, One Kidney, a 'Rare' Mistake

New Jersey hospital calls erroneous transplant an 'unprecedented event'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 27, 2019 2:04 PM CST
Patients Had the Same Name. The Wrong One Got the Kidney
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/ake1150sb)

A New Jersey hospital is offering a mea culpa for an "unprecedented event" and vowing to put measures into places so something similar never happens again. Per NJ Advance Media, Virtua Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden acknowledged this week that a 51-year-old patient on the transplant list was indeed given a new kidney—but that patient wasn't the one who was supposed to get the transplant. That's because a second patient with the same name and of "similar age" was higher up on the transplant list and was the one who should've had the procedure first. After hospital staff discovered the error the next day, the patient who was intended to receive that kidney received their own transplant. The hospital said it reported the incident, which took place on Nov. 18, to the appropriate federal and state health officials and is now expressing chagrin over what happened.

"Mistakes of this magnitude are rare," a Virtua executive says in a statement, per NBC News. "And despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error." It notes that extra "measures and educational reinforcement" have been implemented to ensure there's not a repeat, per NJ Advance Media. It's not clear what those measures are, but some say certain protocols should be no-brainers. In addition to a name check, "we would want to confirm the patient's date of birth and ... ask a patient [to] check their medical record to assure that a number of criteria are satisfied to assure we have the right patient," a patient advocate tells CBS Philadelphia. Luckily, the first transplanted kidney was a match with the wrong patient; both patients are now said to be doing well. (In India, doctors removed a supersized kidney.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.