Twenty-three-year-old Mahendra Mishra always dreamt of being a doctor. However, the ordeal he underwent at a civic hospital recently has left this aspiring student of medicine terrified.
With his admission done at a medical college in China's Yunan province, Mahendra was required to provide an official state certification of his medical fitness.
The Powai resident went to Sant Muktabai Hospital at Ghatkopar west for conducting the mandatory tests. There, he went to the Mumbai District AIDS Control Society (MDACS) clinic for the ELISA test. When the report came, Mishra was shocked. He was HIV positive.
Gathering his wits, Mishra tried crosschecking with the staff. “I asked them to tell me what tests had they conducted, but they refused to answer. I even insisted that they do a re-test. But the staff there said they had conducted the test thrice and found me HIV positive each time,” Mishra said.
Shattered, Mishra went to a private laboratory and asked for a thorough check-up. “Those were the five longest days of my life. I lived in fear every single minute,” Mishra said. This time though, the tests reports showed no traces of HIV.
Accompanied by his father, Mishra went to two other labs for re-tests, just to be sure. All reports gave him a clean bill of health.
“Armed with all these reports, we went back to the MDACS centre at Sant Muktabai Hospital and forced them to do a re-test. This time, the tests didn't find any HIV,” Mishra said. “Sheepishly, the hospital authorities told us that my son's samples might have got exchanged with an HIV positive sample.”
Mishra claims that the clinic was negligent while doing the tests. “The ELISA test is merely a preliminary test, and doctors told us that no patient can be tagged positive solely on the basis of this report. They are supposed to counsel the victim and then, if needed, perform confirmatory tests,” Mishra stated. “But they directly referred me to Sion hospital for treatment.”
MDACS project director and deputy municipal commissioner SS Kudalkar has ordered a probe into the incident. “The patient should have been counselled after the test and should not have been labelled as HIV positive so soon.”
Mishra is now determined to pursue the matter. “We could afford the private laboratory and hence, confirmed that my son was not HIV positive. What about the hordes of poor people who cannot afford such tests,” he asked.