Death sentence was x-ray blunder

A specialist diagnosed Graeme Johnson as having lung cancer after he was given the wrong scans.
A specialist diagnosed Graeme Johnson as having lung cancer after he was given the wrong scans. Peter Chapman

HERVEY Bay's Graeme Johnson knows what it is like to stare death in the face.

He also knows what it is like to spend days thinking about nothing except the short time you have left in this world.

Graeme was in St Stephen's Hospital being treated for pneumonia when his attending physician broke the news to him that his issues had become much more serious.

Specialist respiratory physician, Dr Casey Khoo, had reviewed x-rays of Graeme's lungs and they revealed that his patient had a number of shadows on his lungs which appeared to be secondary lung cancer.

"I was shattered, I knew I had some health issues with diabetes and high blood pressure, but to be told I was dying left me bewildered," Mr Johnson said.

"I couldn't sleep that night and I asked the nurse on duty to come and chat with me and tell me what I had in store," he said.

"I suppose anyone who had just been handed a death sentence would have reacted the same way I did."

Despite still fighting a severe lung infection Graeme booked himself out of hospital the next day so he could go and tell his extended family that he was dying.

"They surrounded me with love and compassion and supported me through some very dark days," he said.

Graeme went back into hospital to continue his treatment for pneumonia and at the same time underwent a battery of tests aimed at revealing where his primary cancer was located.

"The doctor told me they needed to find out where the primary source was before they could start treatment," he said.

After three days of examinations Graeme started to wonder why he was being asked to repeat certain tests particularly on his liver.

Almost a week after the devastating news a senior nurse and Dr Khoo came in and sat down by his bedside at St Stephen's.

"I thought, this is it, they are going to tell me how long I have left.

"Instead the doctor told me that I didn't have any cancer and he apologised and said there had been an error."

"He told me the x-rays he'd been handed with my name on it were in fact not mine," Mr Johnson said.

"I was overjoyed and at the same time emotionally flattened.

"I was also concerned about who the person was who had my clear x-rays instead of the ones showing the problems."

Wide Bay Radiology that provided the x-rays to Dr Khoo issued a short statement saying they were investigating the report of the incident in a thorough and comprehensive manner.

Topics:  cancer doctors health lung cancer

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