Patients get cancer diagnosis instead of holiday wishes


Nearly 8.000 patients received the message

A mistake that almost ruined eight thousand people’s Christmas celebrations. A medical practice in the UK meant to send out some holiday wishes right before Christmas. Instead, they send out a message containing a diagnosis of aggressive lung cancer. 

Right before Christmas

It sound like your worst nightmare: on Friday the 23d, a lot of people received an automated message from their medical practice. According to the BBC, the message requested patients to fill out a form, a DS1500, that gives people with a terminal disease, like cancer, the opportunity to claim certain benefits for their diagnosis. The specific diagnosis was also mentioned, it said: “Aggressive lung cancer with metastases.” Around twenty excruciating minutes later, a new text arrived. This one contained the message that the previous text was an error and that the medical practice intended to just send out holiday wishes. In a screenshot posted by the BBC, the message reads: “Our message to you should have read: We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.”

Awaiting results

Even though a message like that is already terrifying to receive, it gets even more horrific when you have been waiting for tests results. Some of the patients who received the message had actually been waiting for the results of medical tests done by the UK practice. Results that would inform them whether or not they had cancer. Patient Chris Reed, 57, told The Telegraph that he was waiting for tests results concerning possible lung cancer. To him, the text message was a confirmation of the fears him and his partner had. He said: “They went from ‘You’ve got lung cancer’ to ‘Merry Christmas’ in about an hour. Unbelievable…” Sarah Hargreaves, also a patient, had been awaiting cancer test results too. She told the BBC that she “felt sick to my teeth and broke down.”


A lot of the patients were trying to reach the practice right after the text was send out but many of them were unsuccessful. The practice’s phones were blowing up and some people went over to the practice to talk to their doctors. The medical practice apologized for the confusion, giving their sincerest apologies. According to the New York Post, a lot of patients are shocked by the fact that information like this is being shared over text message at all.

Also read: US implements mandatory COVID-testing for travellers from China

Source: New York Post, The Telegraph, BBC, AD | Image: Pexels, Alex Green