Monica Bobbitt spent three days after delivering her newborn daughter thinking she was HIV-positive after a doctor at BC Women’s Hospital misdiagnosed her.
Bobbitt said the harrowing ordeal got worse when she was told she may have transmitted the disease to her baby and another baby she had provided breast milk to.
“I was woken up at two in the morning by a doctor sitting on my bed. She told me that I was to stop breastfeeding immediately. She said, ‘You’re HIV positive.’ That’s my worst nightmare ever, so of course I freaked out,” Bobbitt told Global News.
“They told me that I might have given it to my baby. I couldn’t live like that. I had shared breast milk with somebody else, so not only my baby might have been affected, but somebody else’s baby too,” she said through tears.
“It was a nightmare.”
Bobbitt’s baby and another baby who was fed her breast milk were treated with anti-retroviral medication for three days. A third baby was also treated with the medication after its mother was also incorrectly diagnosed as HIV-positive.
Bobbitt said her daughter experienced stomach problems due to the drugs.
Three days later, she was told she never had HIV and all of the babies were healthy.
“I screamed, I was so happy,” said Bobbitt.
BC Women’s Hospital released a statement Friday evening saying they would be reviewing what happened.
“We understand the routine testing process can be a very difficult experience for women and receiving a false positive result is extremely upsetting,” said COO Cheryl Davies in the statement.
“Unfortunately, false positives can occur with any test. When a positive test is received, retesting is rushed and repeated within hours. Early intervention is essential to prevent transmission of HIV to a newborn. For this reason, health care providers must respond quickly to positive tests to ensure women and their babies receive protective measures, such as refraining from breastfeeding, and treatments to minimize future health complications. This approach has enabled BC Women’s to ensure there hasn’t been a single case of HIV transmission between mother and baby since 1997.”
The B.C. Centre for Disease Control will also be investigating.
Bobbitt said she never received a real apology from the hospital and was not offered support during the days she spent worrying about her and her baby’s health.
With files from Catherine Urquhart