A claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV is still waiting to be resolved after the judge hearing the claimant´s case at the Dublin High Court reserved judgement.
On 17th August 2010, Michelle Kenny (35) attended St James Hospital in Dublin complaining of feeling unwell following her return from a holiday in Majorca. Following a chest x-ray and an ECG, doctors admitted Michelle into the hospital believing that she might have a blood clot on her lung.
Michelle was given the all-clear and discharged a week later, but on October 6th she was recalled to the hospital´s Outpatients Clinic to have a blood test for tuberculosis. While she was there Michelle was asked if she would consent to a test for HIV. Michelle agreed, and the following week the hospital rang with the results of the blood tests.
After giving her the news that there was no indication of tuberculosis, the hospital informed Michelle that it appeared she was positive for HIV. Michelle was naturally devastated and believed she was going to die. Three further blood tests confirmed that Michelle did not have the virus but by then Michelle had withdrawn from her social environment having suffered a nervous shock.
An investigation was conducted into how Michelle could have been given the news she was HIV positive, which revealed the results of her blood test had been mixed up with another patient´s. After the mix up had been explained to her, Michelle contacted a solicitor and made a claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV against St James Hospital.
As a result of her emotional trauma, Michelle withdrew from her social environment and, after it had been discovered that she had been given the results of somebody else´s blood test in error, contacted a solicitor to see if she was entitled to claim compensation for being given the wrong test results.
The hospital contested the claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV on the grounds that – although an error had been made – Michelle had suffered no loss or injury as a result. With no agreement on liability, the case proceeded to Dublin High Court where it was heard by Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon.
At the hearing, Judge O´Hanlon heard how Michelle had become distressed after being told her blood tests indicated she was HIV positive; and was also told by representatives of St James Hospital that the error had been identified quickly and that Michelle had been advised of the mistake straightaway.
Judge O´Hanlon decided that she needed more time to consider the merits of Michelle´s claim for the misdiagnosis of HIV and reserved judgement on the case for a future date yet to be announced.