Bihar shocker: Patient sends biopsy specimen to private lab, gets misdiagnosed cancer report from govt hospital
The histopathological examination report, prepared by government -run prepared by Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital in Bihar, had ‘wrongly diagnosed’ the patient to be suffering from cancer.patna Updated: Dec 30, 2017 17:16 IST
A man’s life was almost ruined as the Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH) in Bihar misdiagnosed a tumour on his nose as cancerous, prompting the family to take him to Mumbai where the mistake was detected.
The case also underscored an alleged nexus between private and government healthcare facilities. The 50-year-old patient’s biopsy specimen was sent for histopathological examination to a private laboratory, but the family got the report on a DMCH pad, signed by the head of its pathology department.
The patient was operated for a nodular lesion over the nasal bone at a private clinic in Darbhanga, 144km north of Patna, on August 18.
“His biopsy specimen was sent to a private pathology centre the day the surgery was done. The report of the test, prepared by the DMCH pathology department, received in the first week of September revealed that the patient was suffering from ‘well differentiated squamous cell carcinoma’, a type of cancer,” said technology solutions expert Amit Jha, nephew of the patient.
“My family was devastated after my uncle was diagnosed with cancer … and he was taken to Tata Memorial Centre (TMC) in Mumbai for treatment,” he said.
A review of his biopsy slides at Tata Memorial Centre showed the misdiagnosis. The Mumbai hospital’s report on October 5 says the patient’s tumour was benign.
A relieved Jha said: “It was like waking up from a bad dream.” But he still couldn’t understand why the government-run DMCH did the initial histopathological test when the sample was sent to a private unit in Darbhanga town.
“The private diagnostic laboratory is run by the head of the DMCH pathology department. Hence, we have reasons to believe that he could have transferred the specimen and prepared the biopsy report,” Jha said.
The private lab charged Rs 800 for the test, which is conducted free of cost in DMCH.
A DMCH doctor, who doesn’t want to be identified, alleged that biopsy specimens were collected from private clinics and histopathology examination was done in DMCH for a nominal Rs 50.
But DMCH principal RK Sinha dismissed the allegation about fee being charged for such tests in the hospital. “I have spoken to the head of pathology about it,” he said.
Pathology department head Ajit Kumar Choudhary admitted testing samples from private diagnostic centres “to meet the Medical Council of India’s norms of minimum tests to be conducted in DMCH to retain the regulator’s recognition for the MD course in pathology”.
Choudhary said the DMCH conducts around 1,300 tests a year and must increase the figure substantially. He didn’t specify the number of tests required to retain the MCI recognition.
Misjudging a biopsy slide was not uncommon, according to senior oncologist P Chaturvedi of Tata Memorial Centre.
A young researcher at the Mumbai hospital said: “It takes fair amount of experience as well as technology to make a precise diagnosis. Mention of margin is one of the important aspects to decipher a skin biopsy slide which was not done by the DMCH doctor.”