08/12/2013 12:02 EDT | Updated 10/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Patient gets needless mastectomy after hospital mix-up

One patient had an unnecessary mastectomy, and another was never scheduled for surgery at a Halifax-area hospital after their test results were switched.

The Capital Health District Health Authority said it made mistakes in two separate instances, both involving cancer patients.

The Halifax-area health authority said in one case the tissue samples after a pathology test were switched on the patients’ charts.

One patient had a breast removed when she didn’t need it and the other patient, who needed surgery, was never scheduled for the procedure.

In a second, separate case, tissue samples were switched before the pathology analysis. One patient had an unnecessary diagnostic biopsy and the other patient never got the follow-up they needed.

Capital Health is releasing few details about the patients or when the mix-ups happened.

“To those patients directly affected by this event, we give our most sincere apology,” said Capital Health in an email statement.

It said it uncovered the mix-up using “quality assurance mechanisms.” All tissue samples removed during surgery are reviewed.

Capital Health said it has since reviewed other tissue removed during the same time.

“We are not aware of any other instances of similar adverse events having occurred in Nova Scotia in the past,” the statement said.

The health authority is now implementing a bar coding system for laboratory specimen.