Couple: Herpes misdiagnosis devastating and embarrassing

A happily married couple, who endured a herpes misdiagnosis, have said they hope no other couple has to go through the stress, devastation, and utter embarrassment they suffered.

They were speaking after the doctor who made the misdiagnosis of the sexually transmitted infection was found guilty of poor professional performance.

Dr Iman Ekky, who works at the Drumcondra Clinic in Dublin, told the 36-year-old mother, who can only be identified as Patient A, that she had herpes.

This was despite the woman’s protests that she was in a loving and monogamous relationship.

A Medical Council fitness to practise inquiry into Dr Ekky’s treatment heard that when informed of the diagnosis, Patient A felt “stupid” and that she was being told that if she was not “playing away” then her husband was.

Yesterday, all eight allegations of poor professional performance against Dr Ekky were found to be proven.

These included that she diagnosed Patient A with herpes in circumstances where there was no evidence for the diagnosis and that she failed to take into account that Patient A was in a monogamous relationship.

Upon seeking a second opinion, the woman was told she did not have herpes and was diagnosed instead with a blocked gland, known as a Bartholin’s cyst.

An allegation that Dr Ekky caused Patient A and her husband undue distress as a result of the diagnosis was also found proven.

Dr Ekky had denied all the allegations against her, but did not give evidence to the inquiry and did not attend yesterday’s hearing.

The couple, who met when they were teenagers and have been married for 12 of their 18 years together, spoke after the inquiry of the stress and anxiety the misdiagnosis caused them.

Patient A’s husband said another couple might not have withstood the pressure of the original diagnosis. “We hope and pray that nobody has to go through this stress, devastation, and utter embarrassment as well, in many respects for my wife and family, ever again in regards to such a treatment and such a diagnosis.”

Patient A echoed her husband’s sentiments. “For a couple that may have been going through a rough patch or just starting out in a relationship it could have been just utterly devastating for them,” she said following the inquiry.

Patient A had attended Dr Ekky’s clinic on Apr 25, 2012 because of a pea-sized lump on her genitals. She gave evidence at the inquiry of her “complete shock” upon being told by Dr Ekky that she had herpes.

“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.”

Patient A said she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “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.”

She added that when she asked Dr Ekky for a blood test to confirm the diagnosis, she was told that this would be too expensive.

The fitness to practise committee’s report will now be forwarded to the board of the Medical Council, which will decide at a future date what penalty, if any, to impose on Dr Ekky.


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