Wrong Woman Given Abortion after Nurse Mixed Up Patients

Daily Mail (London), July 19, 2008 | Go to article overview

Wrong Woman Given Abortion after Nurse Mixed Up Patients


Byline: Michael Seamark

A WOMAN was given a chemical abortion tablet by mistake after a nurse mixed up two patients with the same first name, a misconduct hearing has heard.

Ann Downer gave the drug to a woman who had gone into the clinic for an initial consultation.

When staff realised what had happened the distraught woman, named only as patient A, was called back to the clinic in pain and doctors subsequently advised her to undergo a surgical abortion.

Miss Downer, 44, should have administered the drug to a second woman, patient B, who was in the later stages of a chemical termination, the Nursing and Midwifery Council was told.

The first woman attended the Calthorpe Clinic in Edgbaston, Birmingham - which offers abortion, sterilisation and vasectomy - in October, 2006.

Another patient with the same name was due to have the drugs for the second stage of her medical abortion, only undertaken on women who have been pregnant for less than nine weeks.

The clinic's usual practice was to only call out first names of patients to protect their confidentiality while in the waiting room.

Once the patient was in a private room, other details such as full name, date of birth and address, were checked to make sure they were the person the nurse expected.

Miss Downer failed to carry out the identity checks and gave the drug to a patient who was only due to have an initial visit. That would have involved a consultation with a doctor, blood tests and a scan.

Patients at the first stage after the initial consultation are given a tablet of Mifepristone to swallow, which stops the growth of the foetus.

At the second stage, women are given Misoprostol to complete the abortion.

The second stage - in which Misoprostol was administered - should only follow if the patient and doctor give consent.

Nailah Mears, for the council, told the London hearing Miss Downer was in charge of treating patients at the second stage when the mixup was made.

After taking the drug, the woman commented on how quick the whole process had been and left the clinic.

She said: 'Patient A was attendsecond ing the clinic for an initial consultation at 9.45am. At that stage, no part of the early medical abortion treatment is given. …

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