Sunday 22 April 2018

Loving wife wrongly informed she had herpes, inquiry told

Kevin Keane

A MARRIED woman, in a monogamous relationship for 18 years, told of her shock and upset after a doctor said she had the sexually transmitted infection (STI) herpes.

The woman, who did not have the disease, said she felt stupid after the diagnosis and that she believed she was being told by her doctor that if she was not "playing away" then her husband was.

The 36-year-old mother told a Medical Council inquiry that, despite her protests that it was not possible for her to have an STI, Dr Iman Ekky insisted that the disease had been dormant.

After she sought a second opinion two days later, the woman – who can only be identified as Patient A – was told she did not have herpes and was diagnosed instead with a blocked gland known as a bartholin's cyst.

A fitness to practise inquiry into Dr Ekky's treatment of the woman has heard that when told of the second diagnosis by Patient A's husband, Dr Ekky had no substantive response.

Patient A's husband described his wife as "a lovely innocent lady" and said bringing an allegation of sexual misconduct in to their home was "unforgivable".

Dr Ekky, who works at the Drumcondra Clinic in Dublin, faces seven allegations of poor professional practice in relation to her treatment of the woman.

The allegations include that the doctor diagnosed Patient A with herpes when there was no clinical evidence of this diagnosis and that she caused undue distress to the patient and her husband. Dr Ekky denies the allegations.

Her barrister, Jane O'Neil, told the inquiry that her client acknowledged that she caused distress to Patient A and apologised for this.

Although she was present at the hearing, Dr Ekky did not give evidence.

The inquiry heard that Patient A visited Dr Ekky's clinic on April 25, 2012, after she found a small lump on her genitals.

In her evidence to the inquiry, Patient A said that Dr Ekky told her she was suffering from a strong case of thrush and herpes.

"I was completely shocked," Patient A said of the diagnosis.

"I said is that not an STD? She said it was. I said it can't be possible because I am with my husband 18 years so it can't be an STD."

She said Dr Ekky told her "not to worry about it" and that the herpes had probably been dormant.

Dr Ekky also told her she was going to take a swab for the STIs chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

"To me it felt like she was saying, I kind of felt really stupid, I felt like she was kinda looking at me saying you're so stupid – like if you're not playing away then your husband is," Patient A told the inquiry.

Patient A said she eventually visited a local GP who told her she did not have herpes but a bartholin's cyst.

She decided to make a complaint against Dr Ekky because she felt that if she had been in a different relationship it could have been "completely des- troyed".

"We were so lucky and strong in our relationship," she told the inquiry.

The committee retired to consider a decision in the case, which it is due to deliver today.

Irish Independent

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