Dublin hospital tried to carry out spinal tap on wrong woman

Beaumont Hospital
Beaumont Hospital

One of Ireland’s top hospitals was preparing to perform a spinal tap on the wrong woman after mixing her up with another person of the same name.

The incident only came to light after the woman complained to the Ombudsman Peter Tyndall that the hospital didn’t take her seriously when she ‘persistently’ told them that they had the wrong  person.

Beaumont Hospital blamed “human error” for the mistake and claims to have since overhauled its faulty system for identifying patients due for medical treatment.

The Ombudsman’s report stated that the woman was contacted by Beaumont Hospital who asked her to come in for a lumbar puncture procedure.

Also known as a spinal tap, the procedure involves pushing a needle into the lower spine to test for conditions affecting the brain, spinal cord or other parts of the nervous system.

Lumbar puncture

The woman was surprised to have been contacted by Beaumont, considering that she had never been there before and had recently undergone treatment in another hospital.

In the complaint the woman says she repeatedly queried the hospital but they “did not properly answer her questions seriously”.

“It was only as a result of persistent questioning by the woman that hospital staff agreed to investigate,” reported the watchdog.

“When the nurse obtained the file it became apparent that the hospital had contacted the wrong patient.”

Both women had the same name and year of birth.

The hospital has since agreed to tighten up its system for identifying patients.