A tuberculosis patient had a quarter of his lung mistakenly removed after the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital misdiagnosed him as having lung cancer, the Hospital Authority said on Wednesday.

The 64-year-old received a lung biopsy at Eastern Hospital in May, the results of which indicated that there was malignancy of the lung nodule. He was then transferred to Queen Mary Hospital and received an operation in August whereby he had a quarter of his lung removed.

A tuberculosis patient was misdiagnosed as having lung cancer by Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A subsequent pathological investigation by the Queen Mary Hospital showed that there were in fact no cancer cells and that the patient was suffering from tuberculosis. After a review of records, the hospital believed that the victim’s sample had been contaminated with tissue from the specimen of another patient with confirmed lung cancer.

No other specimens from the same batch conducted by the hospital were found to be contaminated.

Eastern Hospital reported that no deviation from standard procedures had been identified, and that a panel will be set up to investigate the cause of the incident and submit the results to the Hospital Authority in eight weeks.

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Doctors Pang Kai-yuen and Lau Chor-chiu met with reporters on Wednesday.

“The hospital has also arranged a meeting with the patient and family members today to explain the incident in detail, and expressed the most sincere apologies to the patient and his family. The hospital will continue to follow up closely on the patient’s clinical condition,” a spokesperson for Eastern Hospital said.

Having a quarter of the lung removed will not greatly affect the patient’s life and he would still be able to go up the stairs or jog, said Dr Lau Chor-chiu, chief executive of the Hong Kong Island East group of hospitals. “But he won’t be able to lift weights or run a marathon,” he told local media.

Last month, a hospital in the New Territories found that doctors had been using incorrect reference values on equipment used to check protein levels in bones and livers, potentially affecting 9,000 patients.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.