Kottayam Medical College Hospital in Kerala committed a drastic mistake earlier this year when doctors misdiagnosed a 38-year-old woman for breast cancer and made her undergo unnecessary chemotherapy, putting her health and career at risk.
The incident came to light when the woman, Rajani, realised the misdiagnosis and raised a complaint at the hospital.
Rajani had noticed a six-centimetre long lump in her breast in February and went to get it tested. One sample was sent to a private diagnosis lab for testing and another sample was sent to a government facility.
After receiving the wrong results, the Kottayam Government Medical College and Hospital began with the woman's chemotherapy treatment which resulted in the loss of her hair and because of the unease she felt with the treatment, she couldn't go to work too.
The result from the private lab came first and showed positive for cancer and based on these results, Rajani's chemotherapy began. Her first appointment was on March 19 and the next one was supposed to be on April 9.
The results from the government facility came after Rajani's first round of chemo showed that there was no cancer after all.
The doctors immediately stopped the chemotherapy and arranged surgery for Rajani to remove the lump from her breast but the damage was already done.
"The lump had seemed malignant during a clinical examination while a mammogram test in the next stage too confirmed the suspicion. Following this, the patient was referred to a pathology test. While one sample was sent to the hospital laboratory, the other was examined at a private facility. The treatment was given based on the examination of the second sample as the test result from the hospital lab would have been available only a couple of weeks later," R.P. Renjin, Regional Medical Officer told The Hindu.
Rajani is the main earner in her family and has to support her young daughter and her ageing parents. She used to work as a salesgirl before she had to stop going when she began feeling some discomfort. The entire family had to depend on her father's small income from a grocery store run by him.
"I have an eight-year-old daughter and my aged parents. At present, the whole family is depended on the meagre income we get from a small shop run by my father," Rajani was quoted as saying by Times of India.
After the misdiagnosis came to light, Rajani tried to talk to the doctors who gave her the chemotherapy but in vain. She was only given attention after she sent a letter to the superintendent of the hospital.