Sun | Sep 24, 2023

Mother to sue hospital for HIV mistake

Published:Friday | February 12, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer

A St Ann mother is planning to sue the St Ann's Bay Hospital, alleging that the facility erred when it issued her an HIV-positive result for her son, who was 10 years old at the time.

Sandra Howell, of Shaw Park Heights in Ocho Rios, St Ann, told The Gleaner that she has already contacted lawyers as she intends to seek redress through the courts.

Suzette Morris, regional director for the North East Regional Health Authority (NERHA), which has responsibility for the hospital, responding to queries, said she was aware of the complaints by Howell.

However, she declined to comment further, saying the matter was now a legal issue.

Howell's action stems from a series of incidents that started back in February 2008 when her son broke one of his legs and was admitted to the hospital, where he remained until he was discharged in April of that year.

"While he was there, they called me one day and told me my son is HIV-positive. I said, 'No, how could that be?'" Howell told The Gleaner.

Negative result

She said she was devastated but, spurred by the belief that the results could never be accurate, she went and did an HIV test on herself in Ocho Rios in April 2008. Her result was negative.

This made her even more convinced that there was some mistake with her son's result, so she took it further.

Howell said she took her son from the St Ann's Bay Hospital, without him being discharged, in order to get a second HIV test done.

This time the result was negative.

Somewhat relieved, she returned to the St Ann's Bay Hospital and spoke with doctors there, after which another test was done in May 2008.

"And they say it's not positive," Howell said. "One of the doctors said to me that the first result was a mistake."

Although relieved that her son is not HIV-positive, Howell is still upset with the way the situation was handled and says she plans to seek redress.

"I plan to take the matter to court. I already spoke to a lawyer," she said.

She said the lawyer has already instructed her on how to proceed.