WEIRD NEWS

Woman's Jaw Removed After Mistaken Cancer Diagnosis In New Zealand

06/11/2012 09:48 am ET

A New Zealand dental hospital is under fire for a lab mix-up that led surgeons to remove part of a jaw from a woman who'd been misdiagnosed with mouth cancer.

A pathologist at Medlab Dental, part of the University of Otago Dental Hospital, dropped two tissue samples on the floor and then mixed them up, according to the Otago Daily Times, which published an investigation on medical labs last week.

The 63-year-old patient -- who was suffering mere swelling from a tooth implant -- was mistakenly told she had mouth cancer. The right side of her upper jaw was removed. Bone and blood vessels were taken from her leg to help reconstruct her jaw.

Now the woman has trouble walking.

"I can't for the life of me understand how you can get tissue samples mixed up," said Dr. Iain Wilson, the oral surgeon who sent her biopsy to the lab, to the Herald on Sunday. "I am astonished and horrified by these lab mix-ups."

The hospital has apologized to the patient, who has contacted a lawyer. Meanwhile, New Zealand's Health and Disability Commissioner is investigating, 3 News reported.

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