Doctor ‘refused to attend to sick baby’

2013-01-13 10:00

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Health minister has ordered investigation at the hospital

A doctor on call at Limpopo’s George Masebe Hospital “refused to attend” to one of the four babies who died at the hospital about a week ago.

City Press can reveal that nurses at the hospital called the doctor but he refused to come. The baby died a few hours later.

It has also emerged that three of the doctors who were supposed to be on duty on January 4, when the baby died, did not come to work that day.

The baby’s file, seen by City Press, reveals that after the doctor refused to come, nurses called another doctor who could not be reached.

A senior official at the department of health, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “He refused to see the patient – until the patient died. The patient, an 11-month old infant, was vomiting and had diarrhoea.”

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi this week ordered an investigation at the hospital after four babies died there between January 3 and 5.

Motsoaledi confirmed that he knew about the doctors’ alleged misconduct.

But he warned: “We can’t say babies died because of doctor shortages.

If we use that logic, then many babies should die in the North West, as the ratio of doctors to patients there is the lowest in the country.

“As I see it, it’s management failures (that are to blame).”

Limpopo Health MEC Dr Norman Mabasa received a preliminary report this week in which it emerged that two of the hospital’s eight doctors had taken unapproved leave.

City Press has also learned that the hospital operated without a roster from January 1.

A senior provincial official said: “I’m shocked that a hospital can function without a roster. The issue there is not the lack of doctors, it is bad management. All senior staff, including the clinical manager, were off when the babies died. It’s unacceptable.”

As recriminations fly, the four babies’ families are struggling to come to terms with their losses.

Desia Ratimi’s 10-month-old daughter, Kamohelo, died at George Masebe on January 3.

Ratimi recalled this week: “She was admitted to hospital on December 29.

She eventually saw the doctor on January 2. My child was vomiting, had diarrhoea and sores in the mouth.

“The doctor said she should have blood tests before he could see her. I did the tests the same day and, when I came back, I demanded that the doctor see the girl. The nurses kept telling me the doctor would come, until she died.”

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