Man’s hell after Portsmouth hospital’s blunder left him thinking he had cancer

  • Test result mix-up at Queen Alexandra Hospital forced Waterlooville man to have perfectly healthy tonsil removed
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A MAN has told of his nightmare ordeal after a hospital mix-up mistakenly led him to believe he had a deadly strain of cancer, forcing him to undergo surgery.

Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, has come under fire after it muddled the biopsy results of 55-year-old Ralph Chivers with another patient.

A hospital error at QA led Ralph Chivers to believe he had an aggressive tumour in his tonsil ''Picture: Sarah Standing (160322-2922)

A hospital error at QA led Ralph Chivers to believe he had an aggressive tumour in his tonsil ''Picture: Sarah Standing (160322-2922)

The error forced the self-employed gardener to have his healthy tonsils removed as medics could no longer be sure who had cancer and who didn’t.

However, Mr Chivers has received no formal apology for the slip-up and said the hospital told him the blunder fell within its two per cent error margin.

‘It beggars belief – their error made me lose part of my anatomy and yet everyone involved has been able to keep a squeaky clean reputation,’ said Mr Chivers, of Blackberry Close, Waterlooville.

‘I was forced to put my family and friends through hell thinking that I had cancer.’

I spent the next few days thinking I wasn’t going to see my next Christmas.

Ralph Chivers, of Waterlooville

‘The NHS is run as a business. It’s meant to help make people feel better not make them worse and go through this trauma, stress and heartache.’

Mr Chivers ordeal began in June 2012 when he woke up with a sore throat.

He went to his local GP who suspected he had a cyst on his tonsils.

However, as a precaution, Mr Chivers was referred to QA for a biopsy to ensure there was no tumour growing.

Days later he was told the devastating news that he had cancer.

He said: ‘When I was told I just felt numb. I drove out of the hospital with tears in my eyes. I just didn’t know what to do I was absolutely blown away.

‘I spent the next few days thinking I wasn’t going to see my next Christmas.’

However, soon after that his GP called him and told him his test had an anomalous sample of cancer which had accidentally contaminated his biopsy.

A confidential pathology report, seen by The News, printed on July 19, 2012 stated there was ‘a separate detached fragment of extensively necrotic tumour’ on his test result.

‘It is not possible to determine whether this is genuine tumour from this case or represents a contaminant from another case,’ the report said.

Despite this finding, and no further tests taken by QA, Mr Chivers was still forced to undergo surgery, on August 2,

‘The hospital has absolutely failed me,’ he said. ‘I had a severe infection after the operation and couldn’t work for about a month, losing thousands.

‘But they play this “diplomatic immunity” card and can just get away with.

‘It makes me so angry, honestly, whenever I talk about it I just feel myself wanting to punch through a wall.’

Mr Chivers launched a legal battle soon after, which concluded yesterday.

Despite the hospital confirming in a separate document Mr Chivers’s tonsils were healthy and expert evidence from a consultant histopathologist claiming there had been failings in the way QA dealt with examination, a county court judge threw out his claim.

Responding to Mr Chivers’s case, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, said any complaints received are investigated fully in line with a formal complaints policy.

The spokeswoman added: ‘The trust has however not been made aware of any complaint about this case. We would be pleased to look into this further if this was requested by the patient.

‘The quality of patient care is the highest priority of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, and feedback is highly valued and taken very seriously.

‘Therefore we encourage all patients, relatives or visitors to share any concerns with us directly to allow us the opportunity to look into these matters further.’