“It was a nightmare:” The Emotional Toll of Misdiagnosis
A newborn child is a reason to celebrate for parents. However, when a new mother in Vancouver gave birth to her daughter, she was met with some unsettling news.
Monica Bobbitt was told by a doctor to stop breastfeeding her baby after giving birth because she was HIV-positive. Her baby was also diagnosed as HIV-positive and despair sank in for the new mother. In addition, she was told that she may have also transmitted the virus to another baby who was fed her breast milk.
“I was woken up at two in the morning by a doctor sitting on my bed. She told me that I was to stop breastfeeding immediately. She said, ‘You’re HIV positive.’ That’s my worst nightmare ever, so of course I freaked out,” Bobbitt said. “They told me that I might have given it to my baby. I couldn’t live like that. I had shared breast milk with somebody else, so not only my baby might have been affected, but somebody else’s baby too.”
Her baby was given anti-retroviral medication, which caused stomach problems, to treat the virus. However, after three days, the doctor told Monica that she and the babies did not have HIV. Despite the good news, she did spend “the worst days of [her] life” mulling over the misdiagnosis, convinced she had the virus that causes AIDS, a chronic, life-threatening disease.
The misdiagnosis of such a life-altering disease is nothing to be taken lightly. The incident should never have happened, but unfortunately, misdiagnosis occurs in around 10 to 15 percent of Canadian patients. In addition, a 2004 study found 9,000 to 23,000 Canadian patients die yearly after a preventable “adverse event,” such as incorrect medications or surgical errors. The anti-retroviral medication given to Monica’s baby for three days caused her stomach problems. Who knows what might have happened had the misdiagnosis not been caught and the prescription still been administered?
For more than 22 years, WorldCare International’s medical second opinions have connected patients, in situations like Monica’s, with the specialists at top-ranked US research and academic hospitals, including Massachusetts General Hospital, to confirm their diagnosis and recommend optimal treatment plans, often catching misdiagnosis before members go too far down a treatment path. And, AIDS is one of the 25 standard conditions included in WorldCare’s ACCESS remote medical second opinion service.
Because of WorldCare’s unique relationship with the top-ranked facilities in the WorldCare Consortium®, our medical second opinion service is the gold-standard in the industry. Our medical second opinions are focused on all aspects of a patient’s cases to ensure that the correct diagnosis and optimal treatment plan are established. This helps eliminate the risk of a heartbreaking misdiagnosis such as that in the case of Monica Bobbitt.
If you are a member and would like to request service or if you are an employer, insurer, broker or TPA interested in offering our services, please contact us today.