Negligent Medical Results: Narek Discharged from Armenian Army Because of Cancer
Narek Petrosyan was discharged around three months after being called to the army. Parents were told that a lung disease was the cause. Only after arriving in Yerevan it turned out that in reality it was a complicated cancer that was spread in the body by metastasis.
"There were six formations on the lungs, and the biggest was around two centimeters," says Narek's father, Arthur. For parents, it is still unclear how the malignant tumor could stay unnoticed for physicians at the initial stage, before he was drafted.
The malignant cells were removed in the Central Clinical Military Hospital, and Narek, his mother and his younger brother are now in Germany to get treatment for metastasis.
The father believes that his son's illness could be prevented
According to Narek’s diagnosis document, the malignant formation found in the right testicle was around 1.5 cm. During the operation, the right testicle, which was the source of the formation, was removed. The decision to discharge Narek, however, says that the cancer had "evolved during the military service." In other words, Armenia’s Defense Ministry wants to say that 1.5 cm tumor developed within three months.
During the operation at the Central Clinical Military Hospital, Narek's father, Arthur, asked doctors whether it was possible for the cancer to grow in three months and spread metastasis in the lungs. The doctors didn’t give a clear answer.
Arthur is convinced that if the military medical commission studied Narek's pre-conscription documents more carefully, it would be possible to notice the cancer and the disease would not reach such a complicated stage.
Narek is from Etchmiadzin, and the pre-conscription examinations were carried out at the Medical Center Etchmiadzin and in Yerevan, at the Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center. Neither Narek nor his parents had a chance to see the results of the two examinations. They were told that all the documents were sent to the Etchmiadzin territorial military commissariat.
Narek was undergoing his first chemotherapy at a German hospital when we talked. He said that at the last pre-conscription examination conducted at the Etchmiadzin hospital, after the sonography of the testicles, he was referred to the Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, where the doctors told him that there was nothing dangerous, just a hydrocele. "The doctor explained to me that there was fluid in the testicle, but it was not dangerous and it was not operable. I told him that if it wasn’t operable, I would go to the army," Narek says. He did not feel bad in the army, but he had a fever, and that led to doing fluorography in the health care center, which showed that there was metastasis in the lungs.
"Now, I am weak, I have no energy, the pains are constant, but I resist," says Narek, adding that German doctors say cancer could not develop so much in three months.
Calcificate, which is only recorded
With Narek’s consent, Hetq acquired his medical records from the Medical Center Etchmiadzin, Surb Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center and Etchmiadzin Regional Commissariat.
According to the obtained documents, Narek went to the military commissariat on December 19, 2016, complaining of a pain in the right testicle. The testicular sonography was performed at the Etchmiadzin Medical Center and a calcificate of 0.9x0.8 cm size was found.
Narek was referred to the medical center in Yerevan, and as we see from the documents found in Lusavorich center, the referring institution mentined calcificate and diagnosed "apparent orchitis". However, in Yerevan's medical center's diagnosis, orchitis wasn't mentioned. In Lusavorich center, only hydrocele was diagnosed, mentioning that no operation is required. Calcificate was recorded during this sonography, too, without mentioning it in the final diagnosis.
Hayk Norsoyan, a neurologist at the Grigor Lusavorich Medical Center, who signed under the medical records, told us that the calcificate did not "drop out" of the diagnosis but it simply "wasn’t needed."
"In the diagnosis, we didn’t write calcificate, but we did mention it in the sonography, that is, we did notice it, it was mentioned in his medical history, but since we didn’t have data at that moment that there was an inflammatory process, we could not write an inflammation. "
Norsoyan says other symptoms were missing - acute pain, swelling, stinging, skin redness, and Narek had no complaints. He believes the disease emerged after their examination.
Srbouhi Sedrakyan, the sonographist at the Etchmiadzin Medical Center, had a suspicion, that’s why she sent for further, thorough examination. “I saw a calcificate that could be either because of a chronic inflammation, or an initial stage of a tumor." says Sedrakyan.
To the question whether this further examination should have been another sonography, the doctor replied: "In general, it would be better to have a computed tomography (CT). The latter is regarded to be an expensive examination, so they are sent to CT mostly in case if sonography finds something. CT would be at a cellular level and would have shown it, but they didn’t do it. I’m sorry he ended up like that. "
Norsoyan says they did again a sonography, no CT, as the obtained results were enough to make sure that the calcificate is a result of a past inflammation.
Though Narek is now in Germany to be treated for metastasis, he was prematurely discharged from the army by an article that excludes the existence of metastasis in the body.
Article 46b of the N410 order of Armenia’s Minister of Defense, which served as a basis for Narek’s discharge, is about "malignant neoplasms, consequences of radical removal without near and far metastasis".
Arthur doesn’t want to send another son to the army
Narek’s brother, Vladimir Petrosyan, is 16 years old. His pre-conscription examination has already begun. Arthur says he has a lymphangioma since his birth. The tumor is on the right leg. Being a child, Vladimir was examined outside Armenia where they said that it could be operated only at adulthood.
In July 2016, Vladimir passed an ultrasound examination of the internal organs at the Armenia Medical Center. "In the right part of the right knee, there is a thickness of 6.3 * 4.5 cm, and another, more superficial one, next to it," the examination papers say.
In May 2017, Vladimir underwent a pre-conscription MRI examination of the knee joint at the Ultraimaging Center, and, according to this examination, the size of the tumor has grown to 15 * 6.3 cm.
Vladimir is advised against walking or running a lot, he often has strong bleeding from the nose.
Arthur says doctors do not give a clear answer whether the disease can serve as a basis for a military discharge.
Hetq sent a query to the Ministry of Defense, mentioning Vladimir Petrosyan's disease, attaching the diagnostic documents. The Defense Ministry has informed that the decision is made by the Republican Conscription Commission, established by a government decision, based on the conclusion of the Central Medical Commission.
Arthur has decided that whatever happens, he will not send Vladimir to the army.
First photo: Narek Petrosyan | credit: Egiazaryan Photography
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