Medical Center Mistakenly Notifies Thousands of Patients That They Have Cancer for Christmas

Imagine scrolling through your inbox a couple of days before Christmas, casually reading heartwarming Holiday wishes, and then seeing a message from your medical center notifying you that you have “aggressive” cancer.

Forget totally ruining someone’s Holidays, this is the kind of message that could cause someone a heart attack, or at least a panic attack. Sending one person such a message by mistake would be considered a serious error, but sending that message to thousands of patients is nothing short of a catastrophe. The Askern Medical Practice in Doncaster, UK has around 8,000 patients and it is believed that, on December 23, it accidentally sent a cancer notification to most, if not all of them. The text informed recipients that they had “aggressive lung cancer with metastases” and advised them to fill out a special form for people with terminal diseases.

Photo: JerzyGorecki/Pixabay

As you can imagine, for many recipients, reading the text was a horrifying experience. Some had actually gone in for various tests recently and were expecting results, so learning that they had an aggressive cancer was terrible.

“I had just had a mole removed and was awaiting a result from a biopsy and I had been to hospital as my smear test came back abnormal, so yes, I was very worried,” one woman told the BBC, adding that she “she “felt sick to my teeth and broke down”.

“It completely took me by surprise… It’s not often I go to the doctors, then out of the blue, it’s cancer. I’m sat there scratching my head thinking, ‘I do smoke, do they know something I don’t?'” another Askern client complained. “They’ve just told people a few days before Christmas they’ve got terminal lung cancer. They can’t do that.”

Panicked patients started calling Askern Medical Practice immediately after receiving the terrible text only to be put on hold, which only exacerbated their anxiety. Luckily, the nightmare was short-lived, and only about an hour after the first text patients received a second message telling them that the first one had been a mistake.

Askern Medical Practice had intended to send an automated “Merry Christmas” message to its clients but somehow ended up telling them that they had aggressive lung cancer. Someone in customer relations has some explaining to do, that’s for sure.

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