A British woman was gravely concerned about her well-being after receiving a letter from a hospital that said she had cancer — only to later find out the note contained a massive typo.
Nicola Denyer, 39, of Kent, told SWNS that she went to the ear, nose and throat department at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate after suffering from an “uncomfortable feeling” in her throat for several weeks. Doctors there performed a nasal endoscopy to get a better look at the woman’s throat. She was reportedly told by those treating her that she had “nothing to worry about.”
A few days later, however, she received a letter in the mail informing her that she had cancer.
"Flexible nasal endoscopy confirms the presence of cancer at the base of the tongue, which can certainly account for this lady’s symptoms,” the letter read, as per SWNS.
But Denyer’s partner, Paul Valentine, 64, was suspicious: He suspected the letter was a mistake because nothing else within it suggested something was seriously wrong with Denyer.
"I was sure it was a mistake, but the word had been used so you can't help but worry,” he told the outlet, noting he lost his wife to cancer some eight years back.
The couple proceeded to contact the hospital, and the staff there determined the word cancer used in the letter was indeed a typo. Rather, the woman had a “candida” infection of the throat. Candida is a type of yeast.
A week later, Denyer received another letter that recognized the mistake and ensured her that she does not have the disease. A “newly installed speech recognition software program” was the cause of the error.
"Please let me reassure you that I saw no evidence of any cancer at all on endoscopy and I can only apologize for the error in your letter,” the second letter reads.
"We would like to offer our sincere apologies to Mrs. Denyer for the distress and anxiety caused by this error,” a spokesperson for East Kent hospitals, of which Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital is apart of, told SWNS. “All letters are checked by a clinician before they are posted and unfortunately, in this case, the error was missed. We are reminding staff of the importance of thoroughly proof-reading all letters to prevent mistakes like this happening again."
Despite the apology, Valentine told the outlet that the mistake was “shockingly bad.”
"I told them this is a word not to be played around with,” he continued. “If this had happened to someone else who didn't realize it was a mistake, it could push them over the edge."