Boy's infection not picked up

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2013
Kaleb Provis
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
SURGERY REQUIRED: A doctor initially told Kaleb Provis, 14, that his sore knee may have been caused by his obesity. He later underwent emergency surgery because it was infected.

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A Hokitika teenager had to undergo emergency surgery because of an infection in his knee after a doctor initially told him the pain was possibly caused by his morbid obesity.

Fourteen-year-old Kaleb Provis, who weighs about 110kg, began complaining of a sore knee late on January 10.

His mother, Susan Stead, said he also had a temperature but took some painkillers and waited a few days to see if his knee got better.

He went to visit a local GP, who requested an X-ray be taken at Greymouth Hospital.

"We heard nothing until we got the letter," Stead said.

The letter, dated January 29, said the X-ray was "normal and satisfactory".

"I notice you are now well over 100kg in weight, placing you in the morbidly obese weight group," the doctor wrote.

"This can certainly hurt your joints and needs to be looked at with the whole family to back you up to make some changes to what you are eating."

At 1.8 metres tall and weighing about 110kg, Kaleb is technically obese but Stead said he was an active and fit teenager.

"He's played rugby, he's into sailing, he loves cycling. He's in good condition but I wouldn't call him fat."

Kaleb was still struggling with his sore knee at the start of February when he was taken to Greymouth Hospital by ambulance after falling down some steps.

He was referred to a specialist who was visiting two weeks later, who then referred him to Christchurch Hospital for an MRI scan.

The scan showed Kaleb had a bone infection, which had spread around his knee joint, and he needed emergency surgery that night (Tuesday 19th).

"It was a bit of a relief that they found something," Stead said.

She was angry, though, that Kaleb's Hokitika doctor had failed to take his concerns seriously.

The infection could potentially have been treated with antibiotics if it had been caught early enough.

"If it wasn't treated a nurse said his bones would start breaking," Stead said.

Kaleb was discharged from hospital on Friday and is recovering well, but Stead planned to complain to the Health and Disability Commissioner about her son's treatment in Hokitika.

Hokitika doctor Anna Dyzel said Kaleb was initially seen by an on-call nurse who completed the appropriate checks and found no reason for his knee pain.

She had been concerned that his weight could have caused the problem and referred him to Greymouth Hospital, who did not find anything wrong either.

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