Woman claims Meck County Health Department told her she had STD, - | WBTV Charlotte

Woman claims Meck County Health Department told her she had STD, and she didn't

(Devin Futrelle | WBTV) (Devin Futrelle | WBTV)

Jennifer Braga says she was devastated when she was told she had a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Staff at the Mecklenburg County Health Department told Braga she had Trich, an infection that affects about 3.7 million people.

She remembers when the county medical staff called her and told her something was wrong with her test.

"That got me very worried," she said, "because I didn't even imagine that it could be an STD because I thought it could be something worse."

Braga says the person who told her about the STD results wasn't understanding or professional.

"I know that it was not me," Braga said. "So I told her, 'does that mean my husband was unfaithful?' She said, 'yes.' She didn't even, like, make me feel better or say, 'you know we can retest you.'"

Braga couldn't afford to go elsewhere to get retested. She had to wait until insurance kicked in to go to another laboratory to get tested. By that time, she got pregnant and was concerned for her baby. 

Trich can have a negative impact on pregnancies. She was glad she got retested, because that test came back negative for Trich.

"A relief," she said. "I felt very bad for my husband because I was accusing him of cheating on me. It pretty much almost sent me and my husband for divorcing each other."

The encounter with the Mecklenburg County Health Department happened in August 2016. Braga said when she saw the health department making recent headlines for bad practices, she wanted to come forward.

"I was so traumatized with the clinic," Braga said.

The county is responding to the case. Department officials say they couldn't address Braga's case directly, but sent a statement addressing a mix-up like this that happened before within the department.

No test result is always 100% correct, that is why quality assurance procedures are put in place. Even with quality assurance procedures, however, it is possible that a patient is given a result that is incorrect. Excellent patient service is our most important goal, and if we discover that an incorrect result has been given, we call the patient immediately with the correction, and invite the patient to return for reevaluation and retesting.

WBTV also asked the health department what the procedure is if wrong results are given to patients.

"Our laboratory procedures are quality-assured, meaning that controls and results are double-checked. Occasionally the laboratory tech may discover an error, and correct it, before the result is sent to the ordering professional," health department officials said. "With an automated test (like the NAAT test for Trichomonas), control specimens are checked every day to make sure the machine reading results accurately, and results are sent electronically to the ordering professional, without being touched by a human."

Braga's concern comes at a time when the county is ready to restructure its health department. A recent audit shows there are procedures and policies in place to address test results, but consultants say those practices don't reflect current and/or best practices. They recommend stronger documented policies and better staff training.

"Better serve their people," Braga said. "Because there are a lot of people who don't have enough money to go to other clinics."

The county manager says once the county comes up with a plan for the department, it will take about a year to implement them.

"I think that's something that definitely needs to be done," Braga said. "Not for later, but for now - so that this doesn't happen again."

Braga now says her relationship with her husband is good, but she was so overwhelmed at what happened to her at the Mecklenburg County Health Department, she never wants to go back.

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