File mix-up leaves TB patient without treatment

Tuberculosis requires uninterrupted treatment.
Tuberculosis requires uninterrupted treatment.

Andile Ntombela (31) from Tongaat in KwaZulu-Natal was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) in August last year at Hambanathi Clinic. But three months later when she came to the clinic to collect her medication she was told by a staff nurse she no longer had TB.

The nurse, whose name is known to Health-e, told her the virus had been treated, so she returned home.

'Weak and useless'

Ntombela said she knew TB treatment is supposed to last for six months, and so it troubled her that a qualified nurse kept insisting that she was in the clear. According to her, the sister kept on telling her that her file showed that she had completed her treatment. So for two months, during November and December last year, Ntombela stopped taking any medication.

"I didn't have energy and strength to do anything. I felt weak and useless and much worse than I had the previous three months, until I received a call from the clinic earlier this month telling me to urgently come back to the clinic,” she said.

When she arrived at the clinic the same sister, who deals with TB patients at Hambanathi Clinic, told her a mistake had been made during her previous visit to the facility. The file she had looked at belonged to another patient – someone who had finished her treatment. There had been a mix-up of files.

Ntombela was then told that she needed to resume taking her pills.

“I was very angry at the time I was told about the mix-up. The sister didn't even apologise or sympathise with me, she just gave me my January supplement and told me to come back next month to collect my February pills," explained Ntombela.

No formal complaint received

Her brother Nhlakanipho said the family had also been surprised last November when she returned from the clinic without her medication.

“We thought because she was told by a professional that she is healed, so we didn't worry too much. Up until she was called back to come and collect her medication. I don't understand how a professional nurse could make such mistake," said Nhlakanipho.

Nursing Service Manager Pretty Ndlovu of Hambanathi Clinic said she had never received a formal complaint, and so advised Ntombela to lodge a grievance according to normal procedures.

KZN Health spokesperson Agiza Hlongwane told OurHealth that the department would investigate.

“We will do a follow up on the matter raised and gather all the facts and rectify what was wronged,” he said. – Health-e News.

Image credit: iStock

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