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Wrong diagnoses almost kill two in delta hospital

Two near fatalities in a Mekong Delta province have brought to light the poor quality of healthcare being provided in many smaller locality hospitals.

In both cases, a totally wrong diagnosis put patients through considerable pain and suffering and pushed them into a critical condition.

Huynh Thi Day, a 28-year-old resident, visited Hong Dan District General Hospital in Bac Lieu on July 13 with a stomachache. Day was X-rayed, had a cardiogram done and her blood tested. She was also examined by five doctors including hospital director Pham Van Tung. Two days later, a paper signed by doctor Quach Nghia Doan said she had "infectious diarrhea".

But her condition worsened using the prescribed medicine. Her belly got bigger and became painful that she couldn't walk. Day said at the time, she just thought "it doesn't make sense" that the doctors would make a wrong diagnosis.

Day suffered for about a week until her husband took her to Medic Thanh Vu General Hospital, a private hospital, where she was diagnosed as having general peritonitis as part of her appendix had ruptured. She was operated on immediately and recovered.

"If I had stayed home and used the diarrhea medicine prescribed for a few more days, I wouldn't have been alive to complain about this," she said.

"Hong Dan Hospital should quickly fix the way it examines, diagnoses and treats patients, or there will be more people falling in my situation."

Earlier in the year, local farmer Nguyen Van Anh developed a toe infection which caused him to go into convulsions. And doctors at the Hong Dan Hospital diagnosed stomach trouble and kept checking with his stomach.

Anh's condition got worse and the family asked to have him transferred to the Ho Chi Minh City Tropical Hospital, a major clinic for infections. In order to let him go, the family had to undertake that they would be responsible if Anh dies on the way to HCMC.

Doctors at the city hospital diagnosed Anh with severe tetanus and performed an urgent surgery.

They said it would have been too late for Anh if he had come even a day later, the family said.

"Apart from diagnosing me wrongly and almost killing me, [Hong Dan Hospital] also cost my family dozens of millions of dong on my treatment," Anh said.

Leaders of Hong Dan Hospital have admitted that the capacity of their staff is still slow and the facilities for treatment are inadequate, and promised to fix the situation quickly.

Meanwhile, the director of Bac Lieu Province's Health Department said Wednesday they will inspect the district hospital.

Bui Quoc Nam said the department's inspectors will check the medical records of the patients at Hong Dan General Hospital of Hong Dan District and decide on further action depending how serious the mistakes were.