Sunday, 13 October 2013
Mecliable After Hospitals Fail To Diagnose Rare TB
Test should have been routine, says Judge
The Western Cape High Court has ruled that Health MEC Theuns Botha is liable for the damages of a Paarl boy, after finding that two medical facilities under his control failed to properly diagnose tuberculosis of the elbow- a rare condition that left him partially disabled.
For almost a year, from March 2001, Cyn- Lee Klaasen, now 14, was subject to a variety of tests and procedures for what doctors believed to be septic arthritis, a condition often confused with TB.
He had an abscess on his elbow drained, a blood transfusion for iron deficiency, courses of antibiotics, several hospital stays, anti- inflammatories, X-rays, blood tests and physiotherapy. But none had improved his condition.
Eventually, in February 2002, his mother Cynthia took him to Tygerberg Hospital where he was diagnosed with TB of the right elbow. By then, however, it was too late to prevent damage to his elbow and today he cannot straighten his arm.
His mother sued the MEC, alleging that staff at Paarl Hospital and Klein Drakenstein Clinic ought to have diagnosed TB of the right elbow and, had they done so, he would have received the correct treatment and not been partially disabled.
Handing down judgment in the Western Cape High Court last week, Acting Judge Stephen Koen pointed out that doctors had not requested TB tests, even when the boy had failed to not respond to treatment over a five – month period.
The records showed that at no stage was it suspected something other than septic arthritis was the cause, “and at no stage during 2001 were tests for tuberculosis tests requested”.
The judge said that, given the prevalence of TB locally, the possibility of TB should have been considered.
He added that expert evidence suggested it should have been routine to investigate TB of the elbow. Even the manual of orthopaedic surgery, printed before 2001, warned that septic arthritis mimicked TB.
Referring to the argument that Cyn- Lee’s mother should have told doctors she had been treated for TB in 2001, Judge Koen said it could hardly be expected of a person in her position to volunteer such information when the doctors were treating her son.
Cyn- Lee’s attorney, Tzvi Brivik, said the matter would now be enrolled for the damages sum to be determined.