A woman who was admitted for abdominal pain claims she was wrongfully operated on after she was “misdiagnosed” with an ectopic pregnancy despite her negative pregnancy results. Picture: Wikimedia Commons
A woman who was admitted for abdominal pain claims she was wrongfully operated on after she was “misdiagnosed” with an ectopic pregnancy despite her negative pregnancy results. Picture: Wikimedia Commons

Woman claims she was misdiagnosed and wrongly operated on, seeks compensation

By Chulumanco Mahamba Time of article published Feb 25, 2020

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A patient at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital who was admitted for abdominal pain claims she was wrongfully operated on after she was “misdiagnosed” with an ectopic pregnancy despite her negative pregnancy results.

Hlengiwe Koli said she had been experiencing abdominal pains for a while before she went for a consultation at Mofolo Community Health Centre, where she worked as a clerk.

She did a pregnancy test at the centre and the results came back negative. The clinic couldn’t find the source of the pain and transferred her to Baragwanath for more tests on February 5.

Koli, 31, said when she arrived at the hospital, she was admitted and evaluated by medical practitioners.

Another pregnancy test was conducted and this also came back negative and she was sent for a sonar.

“The nurses came back and said that I had an ectopic pregnancy and that I needed to have an operation,” she said.

“I asked them what an ectopic pregnancy was and they told me it’s when you fall pregnant outside the uterus, but I said: ‘My pregnancy test says negative so how?’ They said it matured on the side, but I was confused,” she said.

The mother of one added that her blood was also tested but she didn’t receive the blood test results.

Koli said she then signed the required paperwork before being taken to the theatre for the procedure.

Gynaecologist and obstetrician Dr Fuziwe Dlakavu told The Star that the aim of the operation when a patient has an ectopic pregnancy was to remove the foetus embedded in the wrong place.

“The aim of the operation is to actually remove the portion where the foetus is lying but more often than not you remove the tube itself,” she said.

General anaesthesia is used and the pelvic area is opened with an incision. It’s also often possible to remove an ectopic pregnancy with a less invasive technique, a laparoscopy.

Koli said that following her operation she was sent to the recovery ward, where she was left.

“The next morning when the doctor arrived I asked him what happened and he said: ‘Sorry we didn’t find what we thought was there but we did clean your womb,’” she said.

Dlakavu added that when the womb was cleaned it might be because the patient had a miscarriage and there was tissue that was still inside the uterus.

“The aim of the operation is to remove those products and that entails taking a patient to theatre, essentially dilating the cervix, the mouth of the womb, and then removing those products,” she said.

The doctor added that womb cleaning was also done on non-pregnant women for diagnosis who have abnormal reproductive behaviour such as severe menstrual pains or abnormal uterus bleeding.

Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Philani Mhlungu said Koli presented with an acute abdomen pain which warranted a laparotomy, a surgical incision into the abdominal cavity.

“The ultrasound showed an empty uterus, an adnexal mass and free fluid.

“A negative pregnancy test may occasionally be present when there is an ectopic pregnancy,” he said.

Koli, who was still experiencing abdominal pain, said that she wanted the hospital to compensate because she was operated on for something that wasn’t there and something she didn’t know.

“I put my trust in people who I thought were educated and knew what they were doing,” said Koli. 

Medical negligence claims in Gauteng increased by 33.2% in the 2018/19 financial year, the 2019 South African Health Review has revealed.

According to the report, at the end of March 2019 National Treasury estimated the total contingent liabilities for medical malpractice in provincial health departments nationally at about R104.5billion.

Gauteng province medical negligence claims increased by R7.2million from R21.7bn to the end of the 2017/18 financial year to R28.9bn at the end of the 2018/19 financial year.

Gauteng Department of Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said the department saved about R10m last year when two cases were resolved through mediation instead of being taken to court.

MEC for Health Dr Bandile Masuku said: “The mediation process has proven to be one of the most successful factors in reducing cases of medical negligence. It has cost-effective tools and can be implemented at any stage, during and/or before the litigation process. It is less acrimonious and helps to improve the patient experience in the health system.” 

@Chulu_M

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