A judge has reserved judgement in a case involving a young women incorrectly being told that she had been infected by HIV after test results had been mixed-up.
In August 2010, Michelle Kenny (35) of Crumlin, Dublin, just returned from a holiday in Majorca when she began to feel unwell. She attended St James Hospital in Dublin, and underwent an ECG and blood tests, and had an x-ray of her chest taken in an attempt to diagnose what was wrong with her.
Michelle remained in hospital for a week, as medical staff believed that she may have a blood clot on her lung. When she was discharged, she still had to wait for the result of a blood test for tuberculosis. Michelle also underwent a blood test for HIV when she returned to the Outpatients Clinic early the following month.
A week after this tests, Michelle received a phone call from her doctor stating that although she was clear for TB, the HIV test that was completed came back as positive. Three further tests were taken, all of which indicated that a mistake had been made with the initial test, and Michelle did not in fact have HIV.
An investigation was launched into the case, and it was revealed that the doctor at St James Hospital had given her the wrong person’s results. Michelle sought legal counsel, and made a claim for compensation for nervous shock against the hospital. She alleged that the news, albeit incorrect, had stopped her from socialising and caused a change in her lifestyle.
The defendants contested the claim, stating that Michelle had not suffered any loss or damages due to the mix-up. They argued that Michelle had quickly been informed of the mistake, and therefor was not entitled to any compensation for the mix-up. Michelle told the court, “I was devastated. I thought I was going to die, that I had no future.”
Ms Justice Bronagh O’Hanlon heard the case, and stated that she would reserve judgement on the claim for test result mix-up compensation for a later date.