Doctor’s Office Accidentally Texts All Patients Telling Them They Have ‘Aggressive Lung Cancer’

A doctor’s office in England is facing backlash after it accidentally sent out a text message to all of its patients telling them that they had “aggressive lung cancer” when the office meant to send out a text wishing patients a “very merry Christmas.”

Askern Medical Practice sent the text on December 23, telling all patients about the supposed diagnosis and advising them to fill out a form used by those with terminal conditions in the U.K.

According to a screenshot of the text provided to the BBC, the medical practice asked its patients to “do a DS1500 for the above patient. Diagnosis — Aggressive lung cancer with metastases.”

A DS1500 is a form in the U.K. that allows terminally ill individuals to apply for certain benefits provided by the government.

Roughly one hour later, Askern Medical Practice sent out a follow-up text to all patients to apologize for the erroneous message.

“Please accept our apologies for the previous text message sent,” the second message read. “This has been sent in error. Our message to you should have read We wish you a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. In case of emergency please contact NHS 111.”

While the initial message regarding “aggressive lung cancer” was terrifying enough, multiple patients informed the BBC that after receiving it, they were completely unable to reach the clinic to find out what was actually going on.

One particular patient, Sarah Hargreaves, told the BBC that the message was especially concerning because of her recent health issues.

“I had just had a mole removed and was awaiting a result from a biopsy and I had been to the hospital as my smear test came back abnormal, so yes, I was very worried,” she said.

Hargreaves reported that she had been unable to get ahold of anyone at the clinic by phone after she had received the shocking text message.

Meanwhile, many patients were so concerned and confused about the initial message — and the fact that they were unable to contact the clinic by phone — so they decided to show up at the clinic in person. At least a half-dozen patients reportedly showed up to try to figure out what was going on.

Askern Medical Practice serves roughly 8,000 patients, according to the BBC.