Records, such as medical test results, grades, and bills are important. So what happens when those of two people get mixed up? This is rarely done unless the two people's records are very dissimilar from one another, i.e., a spendaholic's financial records getting mixed up with those of The Scrooge or a bookworm's grades having the class clown's name put on it. Hilarity or drama may ensue, depending on the situation, but the story almost always ends with the mix-up being resolved. When Played for Drama, this may cross over with Mistaken for Dying, with a character getting someone else's diagnosis and believing he hasn't got much time. Compare Poor Communication Kills.
Examples include:Comic Books
- In one old Batman story, "Robin Studies His Lessons", Dick Grayson is kept off duty because he's been getting bad grades. However, then Dick catches some crooks, using scientific knowledge that seems awfully strange given he's supposed to have gotten lousy grades in that class. Bruce checks it and the administrators apologize for confusing Dick's grades with those of another boy.
- In a Silver Age Green Arrow story, GA takes a bad fall and has his chest X-rayed (without removing his mask.) The doctor calls on the Arrowline to tell him that there's an inoperable tumor and he has at most a few days to live. Halfway through the story, the doctor calls back—he mixed up Green Arrow's X-rays with those of millionaire playboy Oliver Queen! Turns out Ollie had spilled some mildly radioactive material on himself that fouled the x-ray film.
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Always Tomorrow, Spock finds it strange that Kirk is still alive and very well when according to his medical records he should be dead. When McCoy investigates, he finds that Kirk's name got put on another captain's medical form.
- In Confessions of a Shopaholic, Becky tells the story of two bills getting mixed up, and each person mindlessly paying the bills without realizing it. She confides that she hopes it'll happen to her, so she won't have to pay the monstrous bills she accumulates.
- Done deliberately in the Kate Shugak novel A Night Too Dark by Dana Stabenow, where the medical files of two employees are switched to ensure that a badly mangled corpse is misidentified.
- In Brazil, Tuttle is set for arrest and eventual execution, but due to a literal bug in the machine as it's typing out the order a Mr. Buttle gets arrested instead. None of the bureaucrats are willing to fix the error; they deny there even is an error.
- Midsomer Murders has an episode where a man's medical records are switched around with those of a cancer patient, leading him to go confess himself to the village priest that when he was young, he and his gang accidentally killed another boy, looking as though he'd hanged himself, his mother dying of grief soon after. Unfortunately for the man and his friends, the boy's unknown father was the priest. Revenge ensues.
- NCIS: In one episode, Tony finds his bank account frozen because his father, Anthony DiNozzo Sr. The bank got the perfectly successful son crossed with the broke, overdrawn and in foreclosure father.
- In an episode of Soap, Burt's doctor tells him he has a fatal disease. A few episodes later the doctor tells Burt that another one of his patients has died from the same disease - it turns out that the other man had the disease and Burt doesn't, but the lab got the results confused.
- In the MegaTokyo strip "Busy Girl", Kimiko, who is just breaking into show business, is finalizing her contract when her agent starts expressing concern about the number of porn films she's starred in. As poor Kimiko goes into a Heroic B.S.O.D., the agent exclaims "Oh dear! I'm sorry, wrong file.
- On one episode of Western Animation/Rugrats, Angelica fakes a broken leg (to force her aunt and uncle to look after her like her own parents normally do). She succeeds when a young doctor gets "Pickles" mixed up with "Peaches" and looks at the wrong x-ray.
- The Simpsons:
- In the first episode Bart switches his & Martin's names on a school aptitude test, so now everyone thinks Bart is a genius who should go to a special school.
- In another episode the school counselor refers to Bart's "latent homosexuality," then realizes he's reading from Milhouse's file by mistake.
- In the short, "Plucky's Dastardly Deed" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Son of Looniversity Daze", Plucky forgets to study for a test and decides to swap his test with that of Egghead Jr., the smartest kid in class. He later feels guilty about doing it and decides to confess it to Foghorn. Before he can though, Foghorn reveals that he accidentally dropped all the test papers in a mud puddle, and because this happened before he could look at them, the students have to retake the test, which Plucky decides to do the honest way.
- In the nonfiction book Computer Wimp author John Bear relates an anecdote where he and another man named John Bear were getting their credit card bills mixed up. The central computer couldn't handle the fact that there were two people with the same name in the system, so it randomly assigned some bills to one and some to the other.
- This can be Truth in Television for background checks; many people have been accidentally fired for "failing" to mention a drug conviction (or other offence) which was actually on the record of someone with a similar name.
- This is especially a problem for "Jr."s, who share the first name of their parent.
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