Maggots eat woman alive in hospital: who’s to blame?

2013-10-13 06:00

Four months after the family of Lestrina Modiba lodged a complaint of gross medical negligence against Polokwane Hospital, no action has been taken against those responsible for her ordeal.

Modiba (73) developed horrific bedsores while being treated at the Limpopo hospital in May this year. The sores were so severe that maggots apparently feasted on her flesh while she was still alive.

Her family lodged an official complaint with the provincial health department on June 17 (five days before her tragic death).

An investigation was immediately launched and the summary of the findings were released to City Press this week.

The report shows:

» Modiba had no bedsores when she was admitted to the hospital;

» The nursing staff noticed that the patient had developed bedsores on May 5;

» The medical team were notified about the bedsores on May 8 and immediately arranged for a surgical consultation;

» On May 17, her family lodged a complaint of gross negligence against the hospital personnel;

» She was seen by the surgeons on May 23;

» On June 4, medical surgeons consulted the plastic surgeons, who examined the patient on June 13; and

» Her condition continued to deteriorate and she died on June 22.

Despite establishing that the bedsores, which are a sign of neglect in medical terms, developed while Modiba was being treated at the hospital, the department says it has not determined whether they were a result of systemic or human error.

Department spokesperson Adele van der Linde told City Press that Modiba’s death was “regrettable”.

“The fact that Modiba contracted pressure sores while undergoing treatment at the hospital is also not acceptable and hence we will be conducting a comprehensive investigation that will be aimed at uncovering the systemic and human factors that are contributory to this unfortunate event,” she said.

While the department conducts another investigation, Modiba’s daughter, Jermina Modiba, said she is disappointed at the slow pace the investigation is going.

“It’s been four months and nobody has taken responsibility for my mother’s tragic death. For the department to first investigate what happened to my mother and then investigate who was responsible doesn’t make sense,” she said.

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