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Iowa Man’s Life Altered By Wrongful Cancer Diagnoses

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Polk County court documents show the Iowa Clinic and Dr. Joy Trueblood admit to a mistake in 2017 that changed a patients life for the worse.

In a deposition filed in July 2018, Trueblood, who was the Iowa Clinic's anatomical laboratory director at the time, stated she was examining two separate prostate files when she mistakenly scanned 65-year-old Rickie Huitt's as the cancerous file.

Trueblood said, "I slid the pile towards the bar code scanner and the requisition underneath it had just a little amount of bar code sticking out and it flipped open to the wrong patient. That's what happened."

Huitt underwent surgery to remove his prostate on April 3, 2017, and he learned of the mistake on April 26 after a pathologist at Iowa Methodist examined the removed prostate and found no cancer.

In the deposition, Trueblood takes sole responsibility and said it was a horrible situation where she figured there might be a lawsuit. When asked if her handling of Huitt's case was careless, Trueblood responded, "Yes."

Huitt claims the intense surgery has left him unable to control when he goes to the bathroom, and his relationship with his wife has also suffered because of side effects from the surgery.

The Iowa Clinic's Chief Marketing Officer Amy Hilmes responded with a statement saying in part, "Once alerted about the situation, we immediately apologized to the patient and implemented changes to make certain such a mistake would not happen again. The pathologist involved in this case continues to be troubled and saddened that her oversight meant a patient faced unnecessary surgery, exposure to anesthesia, and complications during recovery."

A trial date is set for April.

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