Hartford Hospital in Hartford. Hartford Hospital in Hartford. Photo: Elipongo via Wikimedia Commons.

A Manchester man who allegedly had a healthy prostate removed due to a lab mix-up or mishandling of a biopsy specimen has sued Hartford HealthCare Medical Group and Hartford Hospital.

Attorneys for Fred Parkhurst, 65, said the removal of his prostate was an unacceptable mistake that has caused unbearable grief. The lawsuit was filed May 10 in Hartford Superior Court.

“The loss to Mr. Parkhurst is physical, psychological and emotional. It impacts him in so many ways that people do not consider until something like this befalls them,” said Parkhurst’s attorney, John Houlihan Jr., a partner with RisCassi & Davis in Hartford.

Houlihan, who is seeking unspecified monetary damages, said the mix-up is surprising given safeguards that are supposed to be in place. The lawsuit includes claims for personal injury, financial loss, and loss of consortium.

Houlihan said Parkhurst underwent an ultrasound of the rectum and prostate at the Tallwood Urology & Kidney Institute in August 2017 because of an elevated PSA score. A biopsy was also performed. Tallwood is a medical division of Hartford HealthCare, which runs Hartford Hospital.

Laboratory results from Hartford Hospital indicated Parkhurst had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Parkhurst underwent multiple diagnostic testing procedures, including a bone scan and MRI because of the lab results. All were negative for metastatic disease, which is evidence cancer cells have spread from the primary site.

Parkhurst still underwent surgery to remove his prostate in November 2017 because of the initial cancer diagnosis.

John Houlihan Jr. of RisCassi & Davis. John Houlihan Jr. of RisCassi & Davis. 

Houlihan said the removed prostate showed no sign of cancer, which caused Hartford Hospital’s pathology unit to do a DNA test.

“The DNA was from a different patient,” said Houlihan, who noted it’s not clear where the mix-up occurred. “Either Tallwood mislabeled or mishandled the biopsy specimen or the laboratory [at Hartford Hospital] switched the specimen with that of another patient.”

Houlihan said he should be able to pinpoint blame through the discovery process.

Shawn Mawhiney, director of communications for Hartford HealthCare, declined to comment Tuesday.

Houlihan said his client is dealing with incontinence because of the surgery. In addition, the lawsuit states that Parkhurst suffers from sexual dysfunction, scarring and physical and emotional pain and anguish.

Parkhurst, who works for a food retailer, was out of work for about 10 weeks due to the surgery. Parkhurst has returned to work on a limited basis, Houlihan said.