Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health is probing allegations that a critically injured man was turned away from two government hospitals at the weekend, resulting in his death.
The claims are made by paramedics from a private ambulance service that insist that doctors and nurses at two coastal hospitals “made excuses” and left the injured man to die.
In a statement, Reaction Unit South Africa said the man had been critically wounded when he was hit by a car on the R102 near Canelands on Saturday afternoon.
“Reaction Unit South Africa and paramedics were dispatched after receiving a call from a motorist reporting a pedestrian being knocked down. Upon arrival paramedics treated the critically injured pedestrian.
“According to witnesses the pedestrian was flung several metres in the air due to the force of the impact.
Hospital gives medics go-ahead but then turns them away
The paramedics apparently contacted Osindisweni Hospital and informed a nurse in the trauma centre of the incident and requested assistance in stabilising the pedestrian, Reaction Unit SA said.
The organisation said the hospital gave the go-ahead and the paramedics rushed to the hospital but were turned away after being told that the hospital was not equipped and staff were not qualified, even though they had qualified doctors and nurses on duty, to deal with such trauma-related incidents.
“When paramedics explained that the patient was accepted telephonically by a nurse they were informed that the person they spoke to on the phone was a trainee and did not understand the ‘rules’ of the hospital.
“Paramedics were asked to transport the injured man to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix,” the statement reads.
“In an attempt to save the pedestrian's life, paramedics rushed to the second hospital. However, upon arrival doctors [at Mahatma Gandhi] also refused to treat him stating that the collision had occurred in the Verulam area and that the patient must be taken back to Osindisweni Hospital.”
Patient deteriorated quickly
The paramedics then explained to staff at the second hospital that Osindisweni refused to treat the patient and requested that he be stabilised at Gandhi hospital before being transferred back to them.
But the Mahatma Gandhi hospital staff still allegedly refused to assist and told the paramedics to transport the patient to Addington Hospital.
“The pedestrian’s condition quickly deteriorated resulting in him going into cardiac arrest in the hospital’s trauma centre. Hospital staff only intervened when they noticed paramedics had initiated CPR in an attempt to revive the patient who was declared dead a short while later.”
Reaction Unit SA claimed that paramedics experienced similar treatment at provincial hospitals “on a daily basis”.
No comment from dept
“Critically injured people are supposed to be transported to the nearest hospital to be stabilised before being transferred to an alternate hospital however in most cases the patient is refused any treatment leaving paramedics to either wait on scene for an accepting hospital or to drive to the next hospital with the hope of staff assisting,” they said.
“Far too many poor people are being turned away from government hospitals and are succumbing to their injuries due to hospital staff and doctors finding excuses not to treat dying patients.”
Spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, Sam Mkhwanazi, said: “The department notes your media enquiry and will respond appropriately once it has gathered all the facts.
“However, without referring to this specific incident, the policy of the department is that a patient requiring emergency attention should be transported to the nearest health facility to be stabilised, irrespective of whether it is a private or public health care institution.”