Prague Hospital On Abortion Mix-Up Due To Language Barrier

Both women were Asian with a permanent residence in the Czech Republic (Representational)


A Prague hospital offered apologies on Thursday to a patient on whom it had performed an involuntary abortion after mixing her up with another patient last week.

One of the women came to the hospital for a regular check as she was pregnant, while the other arrived for curettage, a tissue removal procedure, which is also a method of terminating a pregnancy.

Both were Asian with a permanent residence in the Czech Republic, local media have said.

Hospital staff mixed them up and performed the surgery on the pregnant patient, who lost her foetus as a result.

“Unfortunately, it was a human error, a human failure,” Jan Kvacek, head of the Bulovka hospital in Prague, told reporters on Thursday.

Kvacek said the hospital was “deeply sorry” for what he called a “tragic” mix-up and said the institution also offered psychological and legal assistance to the patient.

“She is no doubt entitled to receive compensation,” he added, blaming a language barrier as playing a role in the incident.

Michal Zikan, head of the hospital’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said the patient had signed a document in Czech which, however, belonged to the other patient.

“Three days earlier, the patient was told in great detail, in the presence of an interpreter, what she would undergo, that it’s just a check,” Zikan told journalists.

He added the surgeons had “no reason to believe they were dealing with a different patient”.

The hospital has suspended one employee and ordered another one to work under expert supervision as a result.

The case resembles that of Thi-Nho Vo, a Frenchwoman of a Vietnamese origin, who lost her baby in 1991 after a similar patient mix-up in Lyon.

Thi-Nho lodged a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights, claiming the hospital had committed involuntary homicide.

But the court ruled in 2003 that the involuntary abortion of a foetus does not constitute manslaughter, setting a precedent on the legal status of unborn babies.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Hindkesharistaff and is published from a syndicated feed.)