Friday, May 18, 2007

Shock conditions at hospitals in South Africa

Antoinette Pienaar:

Cockroaches, an empty liquor bottle and a dirty toilet, faeces on the walls and incompetent nurses who treated wounds without gloves.

Circumstances such as these nearly killed patients in some Gauteng state hospitals, several Beeld readers complained during the past week.

Fred Berry, 65, the father of Debra Venter, 29, from Primrose on the East Rand, had to undergo emergency surgery at Tambo Memorial Hospital on the East Rand earlier this month as a result of sepsis.

The sepsis set in after nurses touched an open wound with their bare hands and let him to lie in his own blood and urine.

According to Venter, he had undergone stomach surgery in April.

"When we asked them (the nurses) to change the sheets, they said it was not their job and that I was forward."

She asked for a basin to brush his teeth one evening.

The nurses suggested she rinse one of the (full) bedpans for the purpose.

When Venter asked them to dress the wound, they said they would do so "when they felt like it".

On May 3 the wound ruptured and Berry's intestines protruded.

"When I got to my father, he was nearly dying and battling to breathe."

The nurses refused to call a doctor and Venter's husband, Leon, gave Berry oxygen.

Shortly afterwards a nurse apparently tried to push Berry's intestines back into the wound.

Cockroaches crawling on kitchen wall

"She didn't even wash her hands beforehand."

Venter ran down the corridor in search of a doctor, who immediately arranged emergency surgery.

Berry remained on a ventilator in the hospital's high care unit until Tuesday.

At least two other readers provided Beeld with cellphone photographs and video material of dirty conditions in Tshwane District Hospital and 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria earlier this month.

Photographs of the first hospital showed faeces and urine on the floors and walls and an empty liquor bottle in a blocked toilet.

Carel Stander, a visitor to 1 Military Hospital, sent a cellpone video of cockroaches crawling against a wall of a kitchen next to a ward.

The Shocking State of Azanian Health Care

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