A public hospital in Shenzhen’s Longgang District made a potentially lethal mistake earlier this year when it prescribed tocolytics – or anti-contraction medication – to a 36-year-old woman with an ectopic pregnancy.
According to a Tencent News report published on June 26, the woman, surnamed Liu, went to Shenzhen Longgang People’s Hospital on January 25 of this year to see if she was pregnant. Ultrasound results showed Liu had an ectopic – or tubal – pregnancy, in which a fertilized egg embeds itself outside the uterus (usually in the fallopian tubes).
Given the life-threatening risks associated with ectopic pregnancies – and that Liu was already in her seventh week – she should have had surgery that very day. Instead, a doctor diagnosed Liu as having a high risk of miscarriage and prescribed a kind of medication typically used to prevent premature labor in uterine pregnancies.
Though Liu’s husband, surnamed Deng, admits he was initially confused about the diagnosis, he did not question the doctor, and Liu resolved to take the medication as prescribed.
“Later on, the more I thought about it, the more it didn’t add up,” Deng is quoted as telling reporters. “So, the next day, upon advice from my family, I brought my wife’s case to the Shenzhen Maternal and Child Health Hospital for review.”
“Later on, the more I thought about it, the more it didn’t add up"
According to Deng’s account, after seeing Liu’s case, doctors at the Shenzhen Maternal and Child Health Hospital immediately requested she be admitted for surgery. Liu was treated shortly after and released in stable condition.
Though Liu fortunately did not suffer any serious health consequences following the misdiagnosis, her husband claims Shenzhen Longgang People’s Hospital should still compensate his family for the extra medical expenses, transportation costs and psychological stress that resulted from its poor judgment.
The Longgang hospital has allegedly admitted its mistake and assured it will improve communication with patients going forward.
For anyone out there still debating whether or not to get a second opinion from a doctor, we’d say this story is a prime example of why you should – or at least why you should fully understand a diagnosis and prescription before leaving the hospital.