The husband of a Lincolnshire carer who died in 2014 after her tuberculosis was repeatedly misdiagnosed, has spoken out publicly about the family’s tragic ordeal for the first time.
Moza Ali Hill, who was born in Zanzibar in Africa and lived in Stow in Lincolnshire, was misdiagnosed for tuberculosis. She was instead treated for suspected Sarcoidosis with immunosuppressants and tragically died in January 2014.
The cause of her death was not formally identified until a coroner carried out a post-mortem examination and established that Mrs Hill had in been suffering from TB.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are said to have initially refused to admit fault for several years.
The family only received an apology shortly before the case was due to go to a trial when evidence of clinical negligence was said to have been uncovered. Moza’s husband Victor received a six figure pay out in 2019.
This came after he had contacted Langleys Solicitors in July 2014. Legal proceedings continued for a number of years as the trusts involved allegedly refused to accept that failures in their care had resulted in Mrs Hill’s death.
He recently decided to share his wife’s story publicly to raise awareness that TB can lie dormant for many years.
Victor said: “There is no question that had my wife’s illness been correctly diagnosed and treated when she first started experiencing symptoms, she would still be here today.
“Even when it became clear she was becoming increasingly ill, her doctors continued to treat her for Sarcoidosis. She never complained but it was clear to see that she was going downhill, yet despite her clear risk factors for TB it was never even suggested as a possibility until it was too late.
“My wife worked as a nurse for most of her life, before becoming a carer when she felt that looking after the patients had become secondary to the job. I just wish that the healthcare professionals who treated her had shown her the same level of care and respect that she always showed to others.
“Although nothing will ease the pain of losing her, I’m determined to raise awareness of TB, in the hope that nobody else goes through this needless pain.
“While I was hugely disappointed in the attitude of the trust, the team at Langleys were fantastic throughout. They provided me with so much support at a very difficult time, and when the proceedings finally came to an end it almost felt like saying goodbye to friends.”
As Moza was born in Africa, it put her at increased risk of TB and she is said to have had all the textbook symptoms, but respiratory specialists never tested her for it. She had worked as a nurse in a number of countries badly affected by TB, but it was not recognised by doctors that she was at significantly increased risk of infection.
She first visited her GP in January 2012 as she was suffering from an array of relatively mild symptoms typical of TB. This included a persistent cough, joint pain, tiredness and fatigue, and over the following year she lost two stone.
She had enlarged lymph nodes in her throat, abdomen, groin and chest, which can be a sign of TB. Her husband Victor says these symptoms were not fully investigated by Lincoln County Hospital.
After being referred from Lincoln County Hospital to Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, she was wrongly diagnosed with Sarcoidosis.
Sarcoidosis is a rare condition that causes small patches of swollen tissue to develop in the organs of the body. Chronic symptoms can be managed with strong steroid tables that suppress the immune system.
However, as she was battling a serious bacterial infection, this treatment plan led to her decline as her condition gradually worsened after beginning the course of steroids.
Mrs Hill was reluctant to keep taking the drugs as they were making her more ill, but continued to take them on medical advice. Despite this, she continued to work as a carer right before her death as she was dedicated to look after others.
The treatment rapidly worsened the TB and Mrs Hill was admitted to Lincoln County Hospital in December 2013 and then transferred to Northern General Hospital, where she later died.
A tissue sample taken in March 2011, which had never been sent for culture by Lincoln County Hospital, tested positive for TB as part of later legal proceedings.
It is believed that had this been sent when the biopsy was taken in 2011, Mrs Hill would have been diagnosed, received appropriate treatment and potentially survived.
According to expert evidence, if she had been given appropriate treatment for TB at any point up to and including January 8, 2014 she would have survived. On this date she was advised it was possible she was suffering from TB, but treatment for this condition was not started until January 18, 2014.
Sadly, by this point it was too late to arrest her rapid deterioration and she died in ICU with her husband Victor at her bedside on January 29, 2014.
Andrew Cragg, head of the Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury teams at Langleys Solicitors, said: “This was a clear case of medical negligence: given Mrs Hill’s background, TB should have been ruled out as standard.
“Moza’s death was absolutely devastating for Victor and his children who were devoted to her and so we were very pleased to secure justice for Moza, Victor and their family in highlighting the shortcomings in her treatment. Importantly, this case has also highlighted the urgent need for more education around TB, both within the medical community and the general public.”
Hospital trusts apologise
Dr Neill Hepburn, Medical Director at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We have offered our sincerest and deepest apologies to the family of Mrs Hill for the failings in her diagnosis and treatment.
“We have also put in place measures and training to ensure that we learn from the errors made in Mrs Hill’s care to prevent this from happening again.”
Dr Jennifer Hill, Medical Director (Operations) at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our teams work exceptionally hard to provide the best possible care to our patients and we are so very sorry that in respect of Mrs Hill’s care in 2013 some of our actions were not as expected.
“We have apologised to Mrs Hill’s family for the shortcomings in the care that we provided and whilst nothing that we can say will take away the pain of their loss, we can assure them that we have taken what happened very seriously in order to learn and make changes where we can, so that the chances of it happening again are minimised.”