CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — There was a life-threatening mistake at one of the largest hospitals in the Delaware Valley, involving two patients waiting for a kidney transplant. Last week, CBS3 received a tip that a patient at the Lourdes Hospital Transplant Center received a kidney transplant meant for another patient on the waiting list.
The hospital system confirmed that the surgery mix-up did, in fact, take place last week. The two patients have the same name and are around the same age.
After several follow-up conversations with Virtua Health, which took over Lourdes Health System earlier this year, the hospital system admits they gave the wrong person a kidney transplant last Monday.
Officials tell us the organ recipient was in need of a kidney and the surgery was successful. But, they say, the next day a staff member discovered the kidney recipient was out of priority order based on the matching organ donor list.
“This is an unprecedented event in our respected 40-plus-year transplant program. As an organization committed to safety and process, we immediately instituted additional measures and educational reinforcement to help ensure this does not happen again,” Dr. Reginald Blaber, executive vice president and chief clinical officer of Virtua Health, said in a statement.
Virtua says they voluntarily reported the incident to the New Jersey Health Department.
“We have a profound responsibility to people who literally place their lives in our hands. Mistakes of this magnitude are rare, and despite the unusual circumstances of similar patient identities, additional verification would have prevented this error,” Blaber said.
Virtua did not say what corrective actions they’re taking, but patient advocates say making sure the right person is undergoing surgery is basic medical practice.
“We would want to confirm the patient’s name – first and last name. We would want to confirm the patient’s date of birth and, on this checklist, we would ask a patient or check their medical record to assure that a number of criteria are satisfied to assure we have the right patient,” Lawrence Muscarella, of LFM Healthcare Solutions, said.
The medical director and transplant coordinator visited the patient who was supposed to get the kidney to apologize.
The 51-year-old patient who underwent the kidney transplant is doing well.
The hospital says the other patient ended up undergoing a successful kidney transplant on Sunday and is doing well.