‘Language barrier’ leads to abortion on wrong woman at Prague hospital

A mix-up of patients at Bulovka University Hospital in Prague resulted in a foreign woman undergoing an abortion she did not consent to. Doctors blamed a “language barrier” for the mistake.

The expecting mother, who was four months pregnant, arrived for a routine check-up at a clinic in Prague, Czech Republic.

However, a critical mix-up that went unnoticed by the nurses, doctors, a gynaecologist, and an anaesthesiologist resulted in her being mistakenly given anaesthesia intended for another patient, who was also a foreigner, reported the Daily Mail.

This other patient was scheduled for a curettage procedure, a surgery for abortions.

The anaesthesia and subsequent procedure caused the pregnant woman to have a miscarriage.

The incident occurred on March 25.


Hospital officials are taking the incident very seriously. The staff involved in the mistake have been suspended, and a full investigation is underway to determine exactly how this error occurred.

The language used by medical professionals during communication with affected patients is currently unknown.

David Marx, chair of the Czech Society for Quality in Healthcare, emphasised the need for a thorough analysis to prevent such incidents from recurring.

According to Bulovka spokesperson Eva Stolejda Libigerova, the surgical procedure was initiated on the wrong patient due to a serious violation of internal regulations by the staff involved.

A health expert told the local media that, besides staff negligence, the tragic incident likely occurred due to a language barrier.

Speaking to Czech media outlet Seznam Zpravy, gynecologist and vice-chairman of the Czech Medical Chamber Jan Přáda said, “A Czech-speaking patient would probably actively resist the fact that she is going to undergo a procedure that she does not understand.”

The Czech Health Ministry has also expressed sincere regret for what they have called an “unforgivable human error”.

They have confirmed that the hospital will compensate the patient for the physical and emotional trauma she has endured.

This is not the first time such a medical error has made headlines.

In 2019, a similar incident happened in South Korea, where a doctor performed an abortion of six weeks pregnant on the wrong patient due to a failure to follow proper identification procedures.

Published By:

Girish Kumar Anshul

Published On:

Apr 1, 2024

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