A woman suffering from a yeast infection was wrongly told she had cancer when a new hospital speech recognition system mistakenly changed a word.
Nicola Denyer, 39, attended an appointment for her uncomfortable throat but was misdiagnosed by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (QEQM) Hospital in Margate.
The new software had incorrectly changed the word “candida” (common yeast infection) to cancer, which led to the mix-up.
Her GP was sent a letter that read: “Flexible nasal endoscopy confirms presence of cancer at the base of the tongue, which can certainly account for this lady’s symptoms.”
Mrs Denyer’s partner Paul Valentine, who lost his wife to cancer eight years ago, said he suspected a mistake had been made as the rest of the letter suggested there were no serious issues.
Mr Valentine, 64, said: “It’s shockingly bad this was able to happen. I was sure it was a mistake, but the word had been used so you can’t help but worry. I told them this is a word not to be played around with. If this had happened to someone else who didn’t realise it was a mistake, it could push them over the edge.”
Mr Valentine struggled to get any response from the hospital despite leaving numerous messages.
He added: “In the end I finally made contact and was told this often happens. To get a letter saying she had cancer, even though I thought it might be a mistake, was awful. I lost my wife to this dreadful illness. My partner read the letter and said ‘oh my god’ but I told her not to panic, that it looked like an error.”
Mrs Denyer was eventually put at ease a week later when she received a follow-up letter from the hospital apologising for the mistake and telling her she did not have cancer.