An Otago dental hospital has apologised to a woman who had part of her jaw removed after being wrongly diagnosed with mouth cancer.
The misdiagnosis happened after a laboratory worker at Medlab Dental, part of the University of Otago Dental Hospital, dropped two samples on the floor and mixed them up, the Otago Daily Times reports.
As a result the 63-year-old patient was wrongly diagnosed with cancer and had the right side of her upper jaw removed.
An area on the woman's lower leg where bone and blood vessels were taken to reconstruct her jaw later became infected and she had trouble walking.
"I can't for the life of me understand how you can get tissue samples mixed up," Nelson oral surgeon Iain Wilson, the woman's dentist, told the newspaper.
"I am astonished and horrified by these lab mix-ups."
University faculty of medicine dean, Professor Peter Crawford, says the university has apologised to the patient.
"We have taken this incident very seriously, and have already taken all appropriate measures to minimise the likelihood of any such incidents occurring again," he said.
"The patient was contacted very soon after the incident was discovered, and we offered a full apology at that time."
The case is being investigated by the Health and Disability Commissioner and the patient has consulted a lawyer about compensation.
The patient was one of six who had been affected by errors made in pathology laboratories, the Herald on Sunday reported.
In May it was reported that a woman had a breast removed after being wrongly diagnosed with cancer by Southern Community Laboratories.
The woman's results were switched with those of another woman, who was later told she had cancer when the botch-up was identified.