Elderly patient locked in cage

2009-12-15 00:00

NORTHDALE hospital is embroiled in another patient abuse scandal after hospital staff apparently locked a stroke patient in one of the hospital’s cage-like wards designated to house violent mental patients.

The hospital was also recently involved in another controversy when a patient with gallstones, brought in by ambulance, was left unattended for four hours.

Ramkison Balkaran was admitted to the hospital with a stroke, which had affected his motor functions on his right side last week.

His family said they had left him in the hospital ward, but were shocked to find him sleeping on the floor in a cage.

“When we came back to visit him, we found him on the floor inside a cage with a huge padlock,” said his son-in-law Shabeer Dawood.

“Even the food that we had brought for him was locked outside the cage.”

He said Balkaran’s pants had also been removed.

“When he saw us, he struggled and stood up against the gate with no pants on.”

Dawood said the hospital staff claimed that they had to lock Balkaran up to restrain him as he had tried to abscond and became aggressive.

“The man could hardly move, so it is difficult to imagine how he could abscond or be aggressive towards anyone.

“When they admitted him, I gave them all my contact details to contact me should they encounter any problems, but they failed to make use of them; instead, they chose to just lock him up in a cage.”

Dawood, who has threatened to sue the hospital, said he decided to remove his father-in-law from the hospital because he feared further abuse would send him over the edge.

“He would not have survived another night in that place, and we decided to take him back home to care for him there. The trauma he suffered because of that incident nearly induced a nervous breakdown, and now he is having a really hard time.”

A spokesperson for the Health Departmentsaid yesterday they had done what was in the best interest of the patient.

“We, however, are not at li­berty to discuss the patient’s medical records. The patient’s behaviour made it impossible to keep him in the ward with other patients.

“He was confused, non-co-operative, jumping out of his cot bed and taking his file and wandering in and out of the ward,” said Sibonelo Msomi.

“He subsequently became physically and verbally abusive towards staff and was eventually placed in seclusion (a single room), for his own safety and the safety of other patients and staff. This was done in accordance with the department’s protocols of patient management.”

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