Claims of negligence against state hospital surface at commission

2013-07-07 06:00

A legal representative of the KwaZulu-Natal health department was granted permission to delay hearings of the Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) commission of inquiry after allegation of negligence were made during a witness’ testimony on Friday.

Thandeka Dlamini, who is a nurse by profession, has been recounting to the commission the poor care her son had received at Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

Her son, Thami Dlamini (25), was transported there when he collapsed after participating in an RTI fitness test, which was part of a recruitment effort, on December 27.

Eight people died and the commission was established to investigate the events that had led to the deaths.

Thami survived but still complains of pain and suffers from exhaustion.

Dlamini said her son was wearing a dirty hospital gown when she first found him in hospital. When she requested new linen, she was told that there was none.

This was after spending a considerable time trying to find her son, who had been admitted the night before. At one point she thought her son had died and nurses were too scared to tell her the truth.

She said her son had been diagnosed with renal failure. As a result, he could not pass urine. But despite this, in the four-day stay at the hospital, he was not put on dialysis.

Instead, she claimed the hospital had lied about him having passed 300 millilitres of urine.

She ended up requesting that he be moved to a different hospital.

When her son got to Grey’s Hospital, also in Pietermaritzburg, he was seriously ill.

“His entire body was swollen. He had blisters all over his body. He was a sight to marvel at. You could hardly recognise him. He could not move on his own,” Dlamini testified.

But even here she had to reprimand a doctor who wanted to use a needle he had been using to draw blood on her son’s one hand, on another hand, having placed it on a blanket.

Her efforts to ensure proper care for her son included making a call to Sibongiseni Dhlomo, the KZN MEC of health, she said.

Before starting his cross-examination of Dlamini, Advocate Thulani Khuzwayo, for the department of health, requested the afternoon to consult with the staff at Northdale Hospital.

He later said he was uncomfortable with inferences suggesting negligence by the hospital and requested a postponement.

The doctor who had treated her son, as well as the CEO of Northdale Hospital, are set to testify this week.

The commission continues tomorrow.

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