Northdale nightmare

2017-09-05 14:16
Northdale Hospital.

Northdale Hospital. (File)

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A Pietermaritzburg man with type two diabetes almost died after a Northdale Hospital staff member allegedly turned him away, leaving him without any insulin for the weekend.

Tyrone George (31) went to Northdale Hospital on Saturday morning last week after he realised his insulin supply was short by one week’s worth.

George has been a patient at Northdale for several years and had not experienced any problems previously.

He said he walked into the hospital on Saturday morning, hoping to approach a doctor for a few days’ supply of insulin to last him for the week before he collected his script on August 29.

However, George said a woman sitting at the entrance at the security desk told him he was not allowed into the wards to see a doctor and that he would have to come back on Monday.

“I told her that if I did not have my insulin I would be very sick,” he said.

“She told me I should have checked the supply when I first received it.”

George said the woman then called the head matron on duty and told George the matron agreed that he could not go to the wards to see a doctor, and therefore could not receive any insulin.

George left and tried the clinic at the hospital however, by that time he had already started to feel weak and sick.

George said he waited for 45 minutes for help before he left as he was not feeling well.

George’s brother, Russell George, who found his brother lying in a pool of vomit and seemingly convulsing at his home on Saturday evening, said his lood sugar level was registering at 22,7.

George was rushed to hospital by ambulance, however, when they arrived, there was no one to help so the paramedic took him to a bed in casualty and Russell helped set up a drip.

“His bed had blood on it so I changed the linen and sat with him for two and a half hours before anyone came to help.”

George said everything between 10 pm on Saturday and 3 pm on Sunday was a blur as he was not fully conscious.

He said a doctor saw his brother after 1 am and that she was “absolutely amazing and did what she could to help my brother”.

Russell said that his brother was taken to a ward at around 2.45 pm on Sunday.

He said his brother was put into a ward with both male and female patients in the same ward.

He said some of the women were sleeping and had their buttocks exposed.

“I just want to know that people’s cries for help are heard.

“If someone needs insulin like my brother did, do they need to be so sick before they can receive it?

“I am scared this is not an isolated incident,” said Russell.

George said he did not remember much but knew the situation had been “very bad”.

He said he only became fully conscious once he went into the ward and was “very happy” with the doctors and nurses in D ward.

“The staff in D Ward were really amazing. They helped me and I don’t think I would have recovered as well as I have if it weren’t from them.”

Doctor laughed at helpless mother

Russel George said while waiting at his brother’s side in the casualty ward, he saw a woman with her eight-year-old child who appeared to have a broken arm.

“The child was crying out in pain and the mother went to the doctor on her hands and knees to beg them to help her child.

“The doctor began laughing at her and the woman went back to her child and started crying.”

He said another incident occurred while he was waiting with his brother and he described it as “absolutely disgusting”.

He said a man came into the casualty ward and said he could not control his bladder. He wet himself and the doctor started laughing.

“He called another doctor and a nurse who also started laughing at the man.

“They asked him to leave because they said they would not see to a dirty person, and told him to clean himself before coming back in.”

Russell said the man was taken outside and stripped completely naked in the parking lot, in front of his wife and his mother, and made to clean himself.

The Department of Health responds

KZN HEALTH spokesperson Desmond Motha said that medical records showed that George had a history of “defaulting with his treatment” and had been counselled “several times” on the dangers of defaulting.

He said George is a known patient at Northdale “who also knows that on weekends there is always a pharmacist on call for inpatients and outpatient emergences”.

“He thus would not have been turned back without insulin or attention. According to the Emergency Medical Services’ records’, the patient’s insulin and drip was administered at 9.30 pm on August 26 by a paramedic at the patient’s house.”

Motha said once the ambulance arrived at Northdale, George was “immediately attended to by a doctor who put up the second intravenous line.”

He said the paramedic and a nurse changed the drip.

“When the paramedic left casualty the patient was already handed over to the doctor.”

Motha added that it was “rather troubling that Russell reveals in-depth information about patients’ diagnosis and confidentiality”.

“The department regards this is a gross violation of patients’ rights to privacy and confidentiality and it’s also unconstitutional.

“It is also important to point out again that the hospital has CCTV cameras in the areas in question and that the footage does not support the allegations made or tabulated in the query.”

However, Russell provided screenshots of WhatsApp messages between his mother and him that appear to show the ambulance only arrived at 11 pm.

He said that no doctor attended to his brother upon their arrival at the hospital and that he and the paramedic set up the drip on Tyrone once he was in casualty.

Russell said again that they did not see a doctor until after 1 am on Sunday. “If they say they have CCTV footage then they will see my account is a fact.

“If a patient has defaulted in the past does that mean he must be punished by being left to die?” asked Russell. — Witness Reporter.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  health department

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