Misreporting, mixing up, and mislaying pathology results are a repeating theme in delay in diagnosis and treatment of cancer cases we investigate.
Being given an incorrect "all clear" is worse than no test at all as ongoing symptoms are then often disregarded.
In our experience cervical and breast cancer cases are the most common where pathology is misreported although we have also investigated cases where bowel cancer samples have been misreported leading to the loss of a high chance of cure.
Cancer Research UK report: Year on year, requests for pathology services have been increasing, but staffing levels are not increasing fast enough to keep up. Of 36 laboratories that responded to a survey about staffing, 20 had at least one (full-time equivalent) vacancy among consultant staff. Of these 20 laboratories, 13 had had these vacancies for six months or longer. A significant chunk of the workforce is nearing retirement age and there are not enough new graduates to fill the void.