A judge has adjourned the hearing of a case in which a woman claims for psychological damages after she was incorrectly told that she had contracted HIV.
In August 2010, Michelle Kenny (35) of Crumlin, Dublin, just returned from a holiday in Majorca when she began to feel unwell. She sought medical attention at St James Hospital in Dublin. Medical staff at the facility performed an ECG scan, and had an x-ray of her chest taken in an attempt to diagnose some form of illness. Several blood samples were also taken for testing.
Michelle was admitted to hospital and remained there for a week, under observation. Medical staff believed that she may be suffering from having a blood clot in her lung. She was eventually discharged, but the result of a blood test for tuberculosis still had not returned. Michelle returned to Outpatients Clinic early the following month, where she underwent further blood tests, one of them testing for HIV.
A week after these tests were done, 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 incorrect diagnosis of HIV 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, having a hugely negative effect on her psychological wellbeing.
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.