Sydney doctor misdiagnoses tuberculosis

A man went to his GP in Chippendale, Sydney with symptoms of persistent cough, shortness of breath, on multiple occasions and was initially told that he had asthma. He was subsequently told by the GP that he had lung cancer and was referred to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown.

The hospital conducted various tests which showed that he had tuberculosis and X-rays later found the man had a 6cm hole in his lung. The patient was kept in isolation in RPA for 3 weeks and treated accordingly.

During the period of alleged misdiagnosis, members of the patient’s family became infected with tuberculosis. There are fears that members of the wider community may have also been infected. There are media reports that at least 10 people have been infected and are receiving treatment.

Tuberculosis is a contagious disease caused by a bacterial infection of the lungs. The disease can spread to other parts of the body and can be spread to other people by coughing or sneezing.

Symptoms include:

  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing up mucous and/or blood
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Chills

Making a diagnosis of tuberculosis involves taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, physical examination of the patient, ordering specific blood tests, testing samples of phlegm. A chest x-ray may also be ordered. Treatment includes various medications. A misdiagnosis can occur because the symptoms of TB can resemble other illnesses.

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