According to the National Center for Policy Analysis, approximately 10 to 20 percent of medical cases are misdiagnosed.
As WBTV News reports, the Mecklenburg County Health Department in Charlotte, North Carolina, has recently come under fire for such incidents.
Substandard patient care, poor management, and outdated technology are just a few of the issues that have plagued the clinic for years, according to the Charlotte Observer.
The latest headlines have inspired Jennifer Braga to come forward and share an experience that happened with the department in August 2016, an ordeal that she told WBTV left her “traumatized.”Screenshot/WBTV News
It was there that Braga was informed that she had trichomoniasis, a sexually transmitted infection that affects roughly 3.7 million people.
One would expect a bit of compassion and understanding from a medical employee who had to deliver such news, but that wasn’t the case for Braga:
“I told her, ‘Does that mean my husband was unfaithful?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ She didn’t even, like, make me feel better or say, ‘You know we can retest you.'”
Braga was devastated. She couldn’t afford to get retested somewhere else. And it almost cost her her marriage. She explained:
“I was accusing him [her husband] of cheating on me. It pretty much almost sent me and my husband for divorcing each other.”
It wasn’t until her insurance went into effect that she was able to visit another lab. But by that time, Braga had another worry — she was pregnant.
According to BabyCenter, trichomoniasis is known to create a “higher risk of preterm birth, preterm premature rupture of the membranes (PPROM), and having a low-birth-weight baby (a baby weighing less than 5.5 pounds at birth).”
Braga was genuinely concerned about the well-being of her baby, so she decided to retest.
To her surprise, the test came back negative, putting to rest a mentally taxing situation and narrowly avoiding the demise of her marriage.Screenshot/WBTV News
Braga told WBTV that the knowledge that she wasn’t infected was “a relief.”
Though health department officials were unable to address Braga’s specific case, they released the following statement acknowledging a similar occurrence:
No test result is always 100 percent correct, that is why quality assurance procedures are put in place. Even with quality assurance procedures, however, it is possible that a patient is given a result that is incorrect. Excellent patient service is our most important goal, and if we discover that an incorrect result has been given, we call the patient immediately with the correction, and invite the patient to return for reevaluation and retesting.
The department informed WBTV of the proper procedure to be followed in the event a patient receives incorrect results:
“Our laboratory procedures are quality-assured, meaning that controls and results are double-checked. Occasionally the laboratory tech may discover an error, and correct it, before the result is sent to the ordering professional. With an automated test (like the NAAT test for Trichomonas), control specimens are checked every day to make sure the machine is reading results accurately, and results are sent electronically to the ordering professional, without being touched by a human.”
At this time, Mecklenburg County is looking into restructuring its health department based on recent audit reports that show the best practices aren’t being used as it pertains to test results.
Documented policies and better staff training have been a suggested solution. But the county manager says it could take a year to implement a new plan for the clinic.
Now that all is well and Braga has reconciled with her husband, she never wants to return to the health department.
She told WBTV her overall piece of advice:
“Better serve their people,” she said. “Because there are a lot of people who don’t have enough money to go to other clinics.”