'sick joke' | 

Patients devastated after doctor's office accidentally sends message saying they had cancer

Recipients of the text message were left upset and worried

Clodagh MeaneySunday World

A doctor’s office in the UK accidentally sent a message to hundreds of their patients telling them that they had cancer.

Askern Medical Practice sent the text message to patients registered at the surgery in Doncaster on the evening of December 23.

The text message read: “From the forwarded letters at CMP, (redacted) has asked for you to do a DS1500 for the above patient. Diagnosis - Aggressive Lung Cancer with metastases. Thanks.”

A follow-up text message came an hour later which read: “Please accept our sincerest apologies for the previous text message sent. This has been sent in error. Our message should have read We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

One patient who received the message was Sarah Hargreaves.

She told BBC that she felt sick and broke down when she received the text as she was awaiting test results.

"I had just had a mole removed and was awaiting a result from a biopsy and I had been to hospital as my smear test came back abnormal, so yes, I was very worried,” she said.

She repeatedly phoned the doctor’s office but struggled to get through to speak to somebody.

Another patient, Carl Chegwin, also received the message, as did his mother.

He told the broadcaster that the text "was enough to break someone".

"The first thing I thought was, 'is this some kind of sick joke?'" he said.

"It completely took me by surprise... It's not often I go to the doctors, then out of the blue, it's cancer. I'm sat there scratching my head thinking, 'I do smoke, do they know something I don't?'

"They've just told people a few days before Christmas they've got terminal lung cancer. They can't do that."

"What if that message was meant for someone, and then they are told it's a Christmas message, then again told, 'oh no, that was actually meant for you'?" he continued.

"If it's one of their admins that's sent out a mass text, I wouldn't be trusting them to empty the bins."

Another patient, who asked not to be named, said she was feeling "very worried" about the message as family members recently having tests about ongoing chest issues.

"I rang the doctors but on hold as usual. So, I walked round as I live around the corner and there were, I'd say, six people all there panicking as they had got the same text."


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