Man to lose foot after hospital delays

2013-01-10 11:31

Johannesburg - A man who has been waiting 19 days to be attended to by doctors in the Middelburg Hospital in Mpumalanga will probably lose his foot, Beeld reported on Thursday.

George Earle, 52, a diabetic, originally had his big toe amputated in Bethal a few months ago, but was readmitted to hospital on 22 December when the wound became infected.

He was prepared for surgery a few times, only to be told that the hospital did not have enough anaesthetists, and that accident victims had to be given priority.

Earle told Beeld that his blackened foot, which by Wednesday had become maggot-infested and was oozing a foul-smelling fluid, would now have to be amputated above the ankle.

"It feels like a piece of dead meat and every now and again I experience a terrible stabbing pain. They have told me that there might be a doctor available on Friday," said Earle.

"Our hands are tied if there are no doctors," nurses at the hospital said.

Dumisani Mlangeni, spokesperson for the Mpumalanga department of health, said that Earle was "on the list" for treatment.

  • thelma.pottek - 2013-01-10 11:41

    Ai this is so sad, hope they can help him soon.

  • webstorm.isp.5 - 2013-01-10 11:42

    Earle will after this be "on the list" to sue your asses

      Jaap - 2013-01-10 12:58

      What a pathetic state of affairs. But what takes the cake is these State hospital unconscious incompetent BEE and Affirmative action appointments goes to private hospitals and "inspect" them for license renewal and application for more bed space. Look at the State hospital efficiency or shall I rather say deficiency! And they very bossy and proud find fault with these so-called inspections.

  • sharkie.fin - 2013-01-10 11:43

    Wow good luck dude, hope you get help soon. There's no middle ground here. Private medical schemes are too expensive and state hospitals are just not up to scratch. Either pay through the nose because something like this might happen or sit in line with the rest.

  • martin.gee.godfrey - 2013-01-10 11:45

    And the government wants a compulsory National Health system! This man is one of many who is just left to suffer by an inept department of health. Whilst the fat-cat, gravy slurping ministers have access to high quaility medical aid (subsidised with our taxes) and access to top hospitals, the masses still suffer in over-crowded and under-funded state hopsitals. It should be mandatory for our senior government officials to use state hopsitals (mind you, they would just jump the queues a-la the late Manto Shabalala Msimang and her kidney transplant)

      tersia.louw.12 - 2013-01-10 20:31

      Liver transplant...

  • riette.nothling - 2013-01-10 11:54

    What kind of nurses do they have at this hospital anyway, they could have disinfected the wound to prevent it from going this far! To say there are no doctors is no excuse. Without being racist, this is what BEE brings this country, no doctors and a slack attitude towards patients by doctors and nurses alike (not all of them though)

      Deon - 2013-01-10 13:51

      It is not so easy to stop a diabetic foot with dead tissue from spreading. The only cure is amputation.

      jackie.m.dickson - 2013-01-10 15:46

      @dean.louw - yes its difficult treating wounds for diabetics. Sometimes amputations do have to be done for sure. But if you havent had any intervention surgically since before xmas you would be in big poo by now whether you were diabetic or not. Avoiding amputation means removing dead tissue and treating the wound not letting it rot!!

  • nico.basson.5 - 2013-01-10 11:59

    I am a doctor currently doing my community service in the public care and i can tell you that it is a daily struggle with staff shortages, drug shortages, inadequate theatre time and patient overload. Trauma and violence related injuries take up all the theatre time and fills up our casualties. And they get priority. We see at our hospital on average 140 patients a day in casualties alone, not to mention all the specialized clinics etc that add up to about another 600-800 a day. Its a situation where one just cant get ahead.

      carolyn.dewrance - 2013-01-10 13:05

      Then Nico maybe you should offer your services free to this man, show a bit of humanity for once and go help him yourself.

      nico.basson.5 - 2013-01-10 13:32

      @ carolyn: you obviously couldnt deduct from my comment that i am currently working for public ie government hospitals. And i would love to know how you can accuse me of not showing humanity when you have absolutely no idea who i am or what i do or even where i work. I work a minimum of 240 hours a month. How many hours do you work?! Maybe you have had a loved one that was hard done by the system and if that is the case i forgive your comment and feel sad with you but before you start placing blame you must first know where to place it.

      Lyndatjie - 2013-01-10 14:02

      Not on Carolyn! Blame the right people - NOT the people that are caught in the system going way beyond the call of duty to make some sort of difference... If you truly feel that somethign should be done - drive up there and take him to a private hospital so that he can get help. But like the powers in charge - its somebody else's problem... never YOURS huh?

      John - 2013-01-10 15:13

      Well done nico, keep at it! Do not let them get you down! Your contribution is greatly appreciated!

      jackie.m.dickson - 2013-01-10 16:00

      I say good on you Nico! I am glad there are people like you out there! I wish we could clone you :) You are not the problem at all. You are working miracles everyday. Our government are the problem.

      madmountainza - 2013-01-10 16:57

      Hi Nico, kudos to you guys, you work damn hard. I've been in public hospitals and the doctors are often busy right through the night. However, the nurses in many cases (not all) have a different attitude, to some of them it is their right to work there and not a calling and they go along at their own pace and often treat people like carp (in my experience). However, despite your best efforts the healthcare system is in a catastrophic state and the government needs to address this (bigger budgets, better salaries, etc.) If there were more doctors and anesthetists, and nurses who wanted to work there, this could've been handled better.

  • vanessa.luckhoff - 2013-01-10 12:01

    And it's exactly people like George who spent his life paying taxes so that government officials can have the best free medical treatment available,and then if they can't get it here they go overseas...and the rest of us must just suffer in silence...and pay up!

  • zs5zk - 2013-01-10 12:01

    Another CIVIL Suite against the Minister of Health and the Governments Policy`s and discrimination against a White Old Patient. Millions in the Balance here.!!!!

  • modernmetaphysicist.modern - 2013-01-10 12:08

    Pathetic, state hospitals a total disgrace and a mess, damn shameful, i'd sue the crap out of them.

  • vnealon - 2013-01-10 12:13

    sounds familiar. a sharp stabbing pain is what my son had and it ws compartments disease. But the dumb doctors said he had tb. He died!

      robert.cerff - 2013-01-10 12:43

      Also sounds like another friend of mine... Shocking really... just shocking.

      andrew.selous - 2013-01-10 14:21

      @shelly,maybe its some of the nurses who gave u the thumbs downs

      Kwanele Mzwanele Masoka - 2013-01-10 19:01

      Well then those nurses might as well go to hell.

  • Notrax123 - 2013-01-10 12:20

    Criminal action by the health services. Anything to do with the George being white?

  • leslie.rabie - 2013-01-10 12:24

    Rather just leave me under the shade of a tree so that I can peacefully to the other side...

  • Roaan Verster - 2013-01-10 12:26

    pathetic pathetic, what are the staff doing there, useless people

  • brumilda.mostert.98 - 2013-01-10 12:29

    George is my brother-in-law and he is in pain 24/7, and gets a panado for pain relief whilst flies and worms cover his wounds. I have been told by the hospital management that the more "serious" cases get dealt with first...this man is placed in a seperate room away from other patients as the smell of dead rotten meat is just to much...WTF surely after 20days a doctor should have been available to amputate the foot (actually it has spread so much that the leg will be amputated) Well suppose this is the NEW S.A... left to rot

      cristina.d.walters - 2013-01-10 12:46

      is there no chance of transferring him to another hospital who is willing to help him? this is absolutely awful! praying he receives decent medical attention real soon!!

      John - 2013-01-10 14:58

      Maggots eat dead flesh so they are removing the toxins that would kill him. All our public SERVICES need serious attention! Maggots do a better job at the moment!

  • anakin.skyvader.9 - 2013-01-10 12:30

    It's really atrocious and unacceptable. The problem lies with the management of our "health" dept. in allocating the appropriate resources to where it's needed. This includes managing doctors, nurses and monitoring patient loads at every public hospital, and in addition appointing more doctors where needed. Unfortunately discriminatory policies are applied in-between aggrevating the entire situation eventually making it unmanagable to a point of "no return". The problem is high up in govt. and affects patients and doctors equally: one doctor can't do seven doctors' work: it's simply impossible. On top of that all some nurses' attitude of "it's a job" must change: it's a calling, a career, not a "job" from 8 till 17h00. There are excellent nurses but then there are also those that will just ignore you and tell you to wait whilst offering no information about how many doctors are in/when they can see you etc. they will tell you to "just wait see" (the exact phrase) while drinking their tea until you drop down dead on the hospital floor: WHAT FEEDBACK DID THE PATIENT MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE HAVE AS TO OTHER ALTERNATIVE GOVT. CLINICS/HOSPITALS BEFORE MAGGOTS STARTED EATING HIS INFECTED FOOT?? ANSWER : "Just wait SEE". IT'S DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!! "He is on the treatment list": yes: but for how LONG now???

  • Thobile Lugwadu - 2013-01-10 12:32

    Unlucky him, i am sitting on a chair @gateway clinic in lusikisiki since half past ten this morning. Its almost one oclock. No one has attended to us. I was told that the nurses have gone to tea. Fortunately i am not sick...i wanna test for HIV and other STIs. I wish there revolutionary COSATU and the desciplined left...NEHAWU,DENOSA in particular, will see my posting. The problem is not black people,but the absence of a good work ethic and corporate culture,as you can go tho ABSA,FNB or Steers and you will be served by blacks with distinction. Shame on our once glorious movement the ANC

      bless.boswell - 2013-01-10 14:07

      Thobile, please post this somewhere that it will be seen. Your words speak for all of us.

  • karen.kay.357 - 2013-01-10 12:40


  • kevin.henwood - 2013-01-10 12:42

    George if I were you, I would sue the health department. They have to be accountable!!!!

      JamesMWood - 2013-01-10 12:44

      I believe he'll do just that, I sure would!

      martin.gee.godfrey - 2013-01-10 13:29

      If George is at a government hopsital, the chances are, that he is living on a meagre income and unless a hotshot lawyer steps forward and offers to sue on his behalf pro-bono. It wont matter though, the government will draw it out for years and he'll never get any compensation.

  • nico.basson.5 - 2013-01-10 12:51

    I work as a doctor in the public sector doing my community service currently and let me tell you that it is neigh on impossible to transfer a patient to another hospital with such a condition as the other hospitals will just refuse to take over management. The problem is that ALL government hospitals face the same problem and all have similar cases that just arent broadcast. It is very seldom that you will be able to refer these pts as the referring centres are very overcrowded with even longer waiting lists. Its a huge problem

      Kwanele Mzwanele Masoka - 2013-01-10 13:24

      Under these circumstances what would you recomend Nico, surely you can not let a man rot just like that.

      nico.basson.5 - 2013-01-10 13:44

      I agree with your sentiment but im just stating the situation. In a case like this if they are unable to find a hospital that will accept the patient they have to get their head of dept or the superintendent of the hospital to phone one of the academic institutions such as Steve Biko Academic (pretoria) or baragwanath/charlotte maxeke. these academic hospitals have 24hour theatres and aneasthetists and although they are more busy they do provide extra theatres for emergency cases and they are well staffed. But sometimes even they cant help. I know of people who are waiting 4 years for elective surgeries at some hospitals, and the simple fact of the matter is that there isnt enough doctors, nurses, theatre time or equipment available. I was covering a ward last year with 60 patients ons my own. Now how do you give each patient proper attention daily in a case like that? Even if you spend just 5 mins on each patient that equates to 5 hours just on wardround if you do it non stop and then people still need to be seen in casualties and the clinice. it just doesnt work

      Kwanele Mzwanele Masoka - 2013-01-10 19:13

      God bless you for your selfless efforts, but then government must do something about these shortages.

  • frederick.carstens - 2013-01-10 12:56

    This is sick. In fact it is criminal. Press criminal charges against those in charge at Middelburg and even Mpumalanga department of health officials. All of them. It is time that those responsible for making decisions relating to prioritising patients and those allocating recourses start taking some responsibility for their decisions. I am not a doctor but surely those responsible for attending to this man during the past 19 days were aware of what the outcome might be and could have made alternative arrangements etc!?

  • tsomakae.dire - 2013-01-10 13:09

    Oh my word George!! He is my former colleague.

  • byron.jay.37 - 2013-01-10 13:10

    Cancel that hospital plan I was intending to sign.

      Deon - 2013-01-10 13:58

      Not many hospital plans use state fascilities, this is probably why.

  • medunsa.nkhatho - 2013-01-10 13:10

    This is really very pathetic and so disgusting for such an inhumane treatment that we are experiencing in our country. That is exactly "the right to health", it is happening country wide.Believe you me there are so called CEOs and Superintendents at these hospitals, where cruelty to patients is prevailing. Where are we going South Africans?

  • ray.molekoa.5 - 2013-01-10 13:17

    Our hands are tied if there are no doctors . So it is accepted the patient can die , no plan B , no other initiatives ? What a country . How about transferring him where there are doctors ? For heaven's sake this a human being and a life is at stake here .

  • Erik Fourie - 2013-01-10 13:20

    Ons land se verskooning altyd sal wees. Dis Apartheid se skuld.

  • dirk.hattingh - 2013-01-10 13:23


  • Brian Dorning - 2013-01-10 13:36

    Typical of our ANC government.

  • John - 2013-01-10 15:27

    Diabetes caused a lack of blood flow causing necrosis causing gangrene. What can a nurse do but clean up? and wait for an available surgeon. Blame the hospital for bad MANAGEMENT not the overworked staff! I have always been well treated by all hospital staff!

  • zacharias.delange - 2013-01-10 15:39

    these public hospitals are a disgrace, once on a visit to one, in particular Helen Joseph, also known as hell and Joseph, an eldery gentelman was there getting some kind of treatment. he had a drip in his arm, the needle slipped out of his arm, blood everywhere, I tried to help the gentleman as much as I could. when I found a doctor to ask her to help get the needle back in his arm, she looked at me in disgust and asked Why I could not insert the needle back into his arm. clearly she could see I was no doctor, if she thought that she must be more of a retard than I thought. just the plain no care attitude from that doctor in thinking she does not to help the old guy and asking me to do a docto's work....DISGUSTING!!!!!

  • smahlaba - 2013-01-10 16:03

    There are no doctors to service the people. We need to put more effort in making sure more people take up medicine in this country.

  • debbie.reid.509 - 2013-01-10 16:17

    WTF that is a disgusting way to treat anyone hospital bigwigs should be ashamed of themselves n lose there bloody jobs,the patient should sue there asses off am appalled

  • JustJune - 2013-01-10 16:44

    Health Minister Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi needs to explain why when a patient in George Earle's position cannot be treated due to staff shortfall, why the patient is not transported to a facility where he could be treated. Something is seriously wrong when babies die from neglect, a patient's wound becomes gangreous, and previously we read about patients being left in filthy beds. Mr Minister start acting like a doctor, you took an oath to do so!

  • vusumuzi.zidane - 2013-01-10 19:31

    Once again the manager will be suspended,what abt the minister of health.

  • tiaan.truter - 2013-01-10 20:29

    WElcome to SOuth Africa....

  • rohin.jadin - 2013-01-10 20:32

    a friend of mine suffered a similar fate recently. Fortunately he didn't lose any body parts, but unfortunately he didn't have medical aid and spent Christmas through to New year in hospital waiting for surgery as it kept getting postponed for lack of facilities to deal with the need. It's really very sad that the masses have to endure this, and fixing our healthcare system is just not a priority - and they want to have a national health system. What a joke.

  • nico.eksteen.7 - 2013-01-10 20:45

    Well if the state hospital can't handle the situation I think the patient should be transported to a private hospital which can handle the situation on state costs. This is a human rights issue.

  • ansie.yssel - 2013-01-10 22:03

    This is shocking. I am really worried that this man will die of toxic shock before the doctors can help him. I am not kidding. If it was me I would ask someone to put a tourniquet on my leg and cut my foot off. I would rather risk bleeding to death than dying of toxic shock.

  • furlong.lubisi.7 - 2013-01-10 23:01

    52YEARS. if it was a car we should say have exhausted everything. The man have already walked a distance 3times around the earth. Legs are tired.

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