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Woman gets payment for misdiagnosis

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Johannesburg - A woman misdiagnosed with cancer in both breasts is set to receive payment for damages from the Limpopo department of health, her lawyers said on Wednesday.

“It transpired she had been misdiagnosed by a general practitioner at the oncology department of the Polokwane hospital. She is claiming R9.9 million from health authorities,” her lawyers said in a statement.

The 49-year-old former estate agent and now housewife had a double mastectomy and went through months of chemotherapy after being told she had stage four cancer, an aggressive form of cancer, in both breasts.

She has sued for past and future medical, psychological and related treatment, loss of earning capacity and damages for pain, suffering and trauma.

She was referred to the hospital in April 2005 for investigation of a lump in her left breast, her lawyer Jean-Paul Rudd said.

“The doctor at the oncology department referred her for a series of tests which included a chest X-ray and a mammogram.

“The doctor told her a few days later that the results reported the presence of multiple malignant cells in both breasts.”

The doctor confirmed that she had stage four breast cancer in both breasts, requiring a double mastectomy.

She was admitted to the hospital in June 2005, after having started chemotherapy in May in preparation for the mastectomy.

After being discharged, she continued receiving chemotherapy for several months.

She was told later that her breast tissue, following the mastectomy, showed no sign of cancer cells.

“The doctor failed to examine her properly and had not bothered to do further tests, which were indicated when the results of some of the tests were inconsistent.”

The woman approached the High Court in Pretoria to claim damages.

She stated in court papers that a mastectomy had been performed for no reason, due to the negligence of the doctor.

“She changed her wardrobe due to the disfigurement and negative body image she developed as a result of the loss of her breasts. She further suffered a loss of intimacy with her husband, to the extent that their marital relationship is in jeopardy.”

The province’s health authorities had indicated they would pay 80 percent of damages claimed, Rudd said.

The department's spokeswoman Sinenhlanhla Gumede said it would not comment until all legal processes on the issue had been completed. - Sapa


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