Some of our Kentucky readers may be seasoned veterans when it comes to the uncomfortable topic of the annual prostate exam. Whether or not you'd had to undergo a prostate biopsy, you may still be shocked to know the rate of medical errors associated with the results.
A recent study of 13,000 samples from 54 laboratories has revealed that as many as 3.5 percent of specimens from prostate biopsies were either inadvertently switch with another patient or contaminated. This percentage may not seem alarming at first, but concerns arise when it was found that no laboratories involved in this study reported an error-free record.
The study analyzed the frequency of occult "specimen provenance complications," which are errors that take place with no indication of an issue. There are two types of SPC errors, one of which occurs when one patient's specimen is contaminated by tissue from one or more other patients, and the other when specimens are matched to the incorrect patient.
Experts point out that there may be a chance that patients were given the correct treatment, even though their specimens were misidentified or contaminated. Even in these situations, the fact still remains that a diagnosis was given to the incorrect patient without any knowledge or inkling that an error had taken place.
Researchers used a DNA-based test that was initially developed by the FBI and uses short tandem repeat analysis. The authors of this study declared that such testing may be the most effective in preventing treatment errors via misidentification of specimens.