Mombasa doctor recounts wrong TB diagnosis 17 years ago

By Willis Oketch | Monday, Sep 10th 2018 at 00:00
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Ms Caroline Menganga Joseph at her home in Tudor, Mombasa County. Dr. John examined Ms Caroline in 1999 and discovered that she had been wrongfully diagnosed with Tuberculosis at Pandya Memorial Hospital in Mombasa and wrongfully treated with a toxic anti-biotic. [Kelvin Karani, Standard]

A nurse was put on tuberculosis treatment because she had a persistent cough and blood-stained sputum, a doctor told a court.

“She first came to me with complaints of coughing up blood-stained sputum in November 1998. I did sputum test, blood test, Mantoux test and chest X-ray... The findings were negative for pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) and chest X-ray showed no sign of PTB," Dr Fathiya Abdalla told told Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Francis Kymbia.

The medic was testifying in a case in which Caroline Menganga has sued Pandya Memorial Hospital and the doctor for damages for professional negligence.

Ms Menganga, who was a nurse at Pandya Hospital, claimed she was fired before her retirement age and was placed on anti-TB medication although she was not suffering from the disease.

She has accused Dr Abdalla of misdiagnosing her on June 14, 1999, when she was a resident medical doctor at Pandya.

Dr Abdalla said after all the tests turned negative in 1998, the patient went back to her with the same complaint on June 14, 1999.

"Again I commenced necessary investigations...  A pathologist did full blood count which was still negative. I also consulted a radiologist, Dr Odhiambo, who also found she was not suffering from PTB,” said Dr Abdalla.

She said that despite the two consultants having not got a positive test for PTB, they were of the opinion that the woman could have just started suffering from PTB. Dr Abdalla said that was the reason she was not negligent in prescribing anti-tuberculosis drugs.

 Menganga said she was fired while aged 54 and sought a second medical examination that proved she was not suffering from TB.

Pandya Hospital has fought several court battles to have the case quashed but lost.

Among the reasons for the delay of the case was the failure of key witness to testify.

Judicial officers involved in the case were transferred, causing further delays. The case has been presided over by eight judicial officers.

Dr John Adungusi, lung specialist, criticised Dr Abdalla for putting Menganga on anti-TB treatment, yet she was not suffering from the disease.

Menganga is represented by lawyer R. Tindika.

The former nurse has questioned the doctor’s decision to put her on a streptomycin injection at a rate of 1gm daily for four weeks without conducting mandatory investigation of TB.

She is seeking damages, saying Dr Abdalla's unprofessional conduct had exposed her to the toxicity of the anti-TB drug, causing her to develop medical complications. 

Menganga said she had suffered damage to the eighth cranial nerve, making her ataxic and with severe loss of senses.

“I was unjustifiably put on anti TB medication which has resulted in immeasurable suffering, irreversible and irreparable loss,” she said.

The magistrate ordered the parties to start making their submissions on October 5.

 

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