Understaffed hospital wouldn't discharge baby

2013-01-08 12:08

Johannesburg - A Limpopo mother has been left heartbroken after her 7-month-old baby died in George Masebe Hospital outside Mokopane - apparently because most doctors at the facility were on leave.

Connie Kobe told The Star her baby, Kagiso, suffered for more than a week from diarrhoea and vomited but there were no doctors available to treat him as they had all gone on leave for the festive season.

Kobe said she requested that her son be discharged from the hospital so that she could take him to her personal doctor but hospital management refused.

“I am battling to understand why they refused to discharge my baby, when they knew that they did not have doctors to help him. This is hurting,” Kobe told The Star.

Kobe said she now plans to take legal action against the hospital.

Kagiso was one of four babies that had died at the hospital.

Now provincial health MEC Norman Mabasa has ordered an investigation into the deaths.

"I want to know exactly how and when each child died. As we understand it, two died shortly after they arrived in the casualty unit, and the other two died after being admitted to the wards," he said, shortly after paying an impromptu visit to the hospital "to prevent them from preparing for the visit".

Mabasa asked a commission of enquiry to report to him within a week, and said he would take action if hospital personnel had been negligent.

Meanwhile, labour union Nehawu said in a statement that the hospital's staff should be held accountable for the infants' deaths.

The union claimed that the hospital was 75% full when the babies died, with only one doctor on duty, and that basic medical supplies and stocks had been depleted.

Nehawu also said that three of the hospital's nine doctors had resigned in December.

According to Mabasa, a hospital like George Masebe, with 288 beds, should have 38 doctors, but it has only 8.

  • jannie.devos.56 - 2013-01-08 12:11

    Tragic story. The absolute incompetence is shocking!

      moriri.mosweu - 2013-01-08 12:36

      People should learn to be objective before they comment just for thumbs up. Obviously the condition of the child did not warrant a child being discharged, he/she should have been so critical which could be why she/he died not because of the under staffing.There are cases where parents signs a discharge against medical advice for a child, only to take a child to a sangoma for some luxertives which in all cases causes dehydration hence worsening the child's condition.The mother want a compensation as it is always the case but she should first accept that she took her child to the hospital because the child was poorly and I know as always the health workers try and do their best with less or no thank you.

      Jane - 2013-01-08 13:03

      Semonatenate: did you actually READ the article. The mother said NO doctor was attending to her child and she wanted her baby discharged so that she could take him to her personal doctor. Even a pharmacist treating the baby for diarrhoea and vomiting would have been more helpful than the baby being untreated, and the child might have survived

      jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2013-01-08 13:04

      Semonatenate. You were there then and thus know all about it?.If there were no doctors present who could decide if the child had to stay?. No one in his right mind is going to give 'luxertives' to a child with diarrroeha. Honestly!!!!

      Akash - 2013-01-08 13:11

      Semonatanate, illogical comment. Read properly - she wanted to take her baby to a private medical doctor as the hospital was not doing anything.

      Heibrin - 2013-01-08 13:11

      @Jane: He's a Malema supporter, don't bother, it's like talking to a wall... except the wall may have something intelligent to say.

      mofstok - 2013-01-08 13:26

      semon: the parents or patient always reserve the right to "red card" yourself out of hospital. Maybe YOU should think before you post?

      frank.kistler.31 - 2013-01-08 14:22

      I will never trust a public hospital....just too many stories of deaths....sad sad..

      andrew.selous - 2013-01-08 14:52

      @semenatenate whats wrong? you tired....sleepy..cant read! she came for professional help first and they failed her ,period.where does the sangoma come in?

  • ernie.retief.1 - 2013-01-08 12:21

    Government and management should be held accountable for these deaths. They should all be locked up for incompetence. Its the only way the situation will ever change.

  • Wish EaTwice - 2013-01-08 12:24

    God why is everything tragic happening in Limpopo??

      handy.andy.773 - 2013-01-08 12:44

      Why don't we ask the people who runs the province that question. Who are they again? O yes, how could I forget...

      mofstok - 2013-01-08 13:27

      Because who governs the Limpopo Province? There's your answer.

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:16

      so correct...why is so much bad happening in limpopo. Who are these people that perpetuate such contempt to life and people. i so hope they stop voting the ANC who created that idiot at the top of the tree of ANC Youth and keeps such criminals running our country.

      flysouth - 2013-01-08 14:41

      look at the corrupt criminals running the province and there you will find your answer!

  • susan.pretorius.31 - 2013-01-08 12:28

    How can they refuse to discharge him? I will just take my child and walk..

      Deon - 2013-01-08 13:17

      Yes, she only had to fill in the "red" form.

      DuToitCoetzee - 2013-01-08 13:59

      Some mothers are not so clued up with all procedures and having respect for medical staff, that is "supposed" to know more, they do not go against them. It seams her motherly in-stink told her what to do, but this "chief and Indian" role play by the "supposed" educated caretakers let her not followed it through. My condolences mommy.

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:20

      Buls@@t to any red form. Who are such incompetents who care nothing about your child to dictae anything? They don't care and they have no god given right, despite the pedestal they think they sit in.

  • vulombe.nhlangwana - 2013-01-08 12:38

    The deaths of all the babies should be blamed on management. How do let most of your medical doctors go on leave at once. The deaths also highlight the gross mismanagement that exist in healthcare. A doctor alone cannot heal a patient. What if the doctor was there but there is no medication because the pharmacy has run out due to a supplier not fulfilling their tender obligation. With the NHI the minister of health is encouraging GPs to help out in hospitals and clinics. Personally I have experienced how long and frustrating this process is, since I applied in August I am still waiting for my appointment letter.

  • Mary Milne Archibald - 2013-01-08 12:42

    Where was the Medical Superintendent? Who approved the doctors leave? Both these people are accountable for the shortage of Doctors.

  • gregory.jurgens - 2013-01-08 12:43

    Government hospitals are nothing but cesspools . With arrogant overweight nurses who's main ambition is to sit and drink tea. It's unfortunate that a few dedicated staff have to fall into the same category as the majority.

      helga.venter.1 - 2013-01-08 14:43

      I do wonder what on earth the weight of the nurses have to do with anything at all.

  • zoe.j.ward.7 - 2013-01-08 12:45

    Semonatenate... Are u thick?? Would u hang around with ur baby in that state at a hospital u werent getting help at?? If u would u are one sick little person. The mother was looking after her baby and there was no one else to help. She wanted to take her child to somewhere that could give medical attention, and now y saying she just wants compensation?? You need ur head read.

  • keith.recore - 2013-01-08 12:54

    usually these stories have "the heads will roll" if fault is found. If true, will we ever know what the outcome of the investigation is and will this be prevented from happening again? my, how life in SA seems so disposable. This should never be tolerated nor accepted, but yet day after day yet another example of loss of life through careless, uncaring actions is reported. when is enough enough for people to wake up and finally address and correct this attitude of it "just doesn't matter?

  • zoe.j.ward.7 - 2013-01-08 12:56

    @moriru.mosweu changing ur name is not gonna make u look any less stupid

  • keith.gerber.71 - 2013-01-08 12:57

    @semonatenate - I will give you a thumbs up, just for being a naive D@@s!

  • jacqui.daanevanrensburg - 2013-01-08 13:00

    The doctors were on leave?. Good heavens. I hope she sues the hospital and the judge make them pay. Things in this country is getting more ridiculous by the day.

      imoukangwe - 2013-01-08 14:27

      So doctors are not suppose to go on leave and rest like you ? Aint they humans ? Look its not doctors problem that theres shotage , your governments freezes posts , they pay them peanuts etc . Before you judge please look at the of the problem not symptoms .

  • ursula.thyssen - 2013-01-08 13:00

    Fire all staff...close down the hospital...Better hospitals can do with more beds...No doctors should have leave over festive season...they took an oath before many and before GOD...Their first priority MUST be patients...They can take leave during year..Im sorry...but i would have taken my child away. No one would have notice staff remember..They killed the baby...

      robynne.els.1 - 2013-01-08 13:15

      My husband is a doctor in a public hospital and he worked right through december and only has leave later BUT the doctors are meant to put in for their leave in time to make sure other doctors are available to work! while I think its ridiculous to let all the doctors on leave at the same time you cannot state that doctors shouldn't have leave over christmas because my children also deserve to have their father there on christmas morning! Its not the doctors its the hospital management and just remember the doctors in public work their backsides off!

      mofstok - 2013-01-08 13:31

      Are you retarded? Of course they should be allowed leave in December, but not all at once.

      Ignorance police - 2013-01-08 13:55

      Uraula, seriously you need a wake up call. These doctors you are moaning about are the only dedicated ones left after people like myself left that godforsaken health sector because the so called government has created a systems failure of epic proportion. I cry for them. They earn buggerall on a worldwide scale. 7 times less than overseas and for double the hours. Their governing body is less than useless effectively preventing any expat from returning and they work in the most appaling conditions. I take it you have never been to a state health facility recently? The entire year they work 3 times as many hours as you do and deserve a roster where they go on leave at ANY time of the year. Hospitals do not function at full capacity, especially surgical services, and only emergency services run over Christmas. It is the government and hospitals responsibility to cross cover. You can only squeeze so much blood out of a stone. So have a heart

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:13

      We would have walked out and told the staff our opinion. Life is life and this is bulx@it. This poor person suffered teh brainwashing that Doctors are gods but it is obvious from this, they are no good and cannot even abide by their duty to the care of the patient. Sack them for being so irresponsible and mayeb even imprison them for negligence. Then perhaps these "doctors" who are worth so little as to ensure they have not just great pay, but holidays when everyone else does, may think twice before their disgucting attitude towards life and their chosen job. i am in Tourism and i have to work every day amongst season (er, and every other day unfortunately) and know full well this is the busiest time of the year. Are we really in such a poor state of life that during the busiest time of the year, those of us that will be busy can choose to avoid our responsibilities. I really hope this is nothing to do with BEE and the subsequent ill-chosen staff due to racism. :(

      imoukangwe - 2013-01-08 14:17

      You are bitter and selfish ! So doctors are your slaves ? Aint they human like you ? ... The problem here is shortage of doctors ! Why is there shortage of doctors in the first place ?

      Heibrin - 2013-01-08 14:21

      @imoukangwe: Your answer starts with not universities unable to accept the best students that apply to study medicine.

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:58

      These doctors, if they had a duty of care, would have taken some self responsibility to ensure enoug were on duty. Their management are a complete and utter disgrace and incompetent. They knew there was no-one on, apart from maybe the first booking their holidays. they did not care, like their management. Forget pay of other countries for many of our best go there anyway. Doctors still earn more than fellow countrymen and perhaps rightly so. Doctors and their management have many lives in thier hands and this case, Doctors and managment did not care enough.

  • justice.maduna.3 - 2013-01-08 13:05


  • lulama.mkunqwana - 2013-01-08 13:10

    Take the whole shoot to court starting with the minister.

  • manngo.thakhani - 2013-01-08 13:13

    For an occupation like being a doctor, you've gotta be passionate about helping people and be someone who's not self-centered. This is proposterous

      imoukangwe - 2013-01-08 14:12

      I dont think you understand , the hospital has shortage of doctors ! They have only few doctors for 288 beds! So before you judge you must ask yourself would you work 24/7 without rest or leaves ?

  • Heibrin - 2013-01-08 13:15

    These events are *almost* as shocking as this article:

  • DJChrisPalmer - 2013-01-08 13:17

    Unbelievable. There should be criminal charges brought against these idiots. How could anyone be so stupid and uncaring?

  • milo.starr - 2013-01-08 13:22

    It's a basic sum. Hospital has 9 doctors. 3 resign, so they're left with six. Two positions gets filled again, which leaves them with eight doctors, but then SEVEN of them has their leave approved by MANAGEMENT. (And it won't surprise me if the two "newbies" who shouldn't be eligible for leave is also away.) At the most basic, the lines at the shops are a long mess because the idiot that approves breaks has all the cashiers on lunch at the same time, and in this very sad instance babies died because of the same level of incompetence. INCOMPETENT and DEVIL MAY CARE management is behind 99% of all the problems ordinary South African's have to deal with on a daily basis!

  • vnealon - 2013-01-08 13:34

    St Marys in Durban killed my 13 year old son by misdiagnosing him 7 months ago. it was total negligence and i have not evenhad an apology form them. Those doctors are still practising and porbably killing more kids. The health department has still not given us an update on the investigation. most doctors in this country are just in it for the money not because they care. Most of the good doctors have left the country because they know what goes on in these hospitals. Why do they sign the hypocritical oath? Something seriously needs to be done about the negligence in our hospitals. Doctors should be servely puniched. If I ever see any of the doctors that killed my son. God help them!!!!! So sorry for your loss Coby I feel your pain!

      mofstok - 2013-01-08 14:17

      Sorry about your son, but it is immensely stupid of you to tar all doctors with the same brush. You really have no clue what they go through on a daily basis working in some of the worst conditions imaginable on this planet.

  • renard.souza - 2013-01-08 13:38

    Viva ANC viva, corrupt murderers.

  • peasant.mcpoor - 2013-01-08 13:47

    If I was in that situation, the person who tried 2 stop me from taking my child away would have needed life support of their own once I was done.

  • dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:01

    Such negligence, incompetence and severe mismanagement is murderous. Negligence is a serious crime. This hospital needs a serious shake up, a lesson to be learnt by all medical establishments and to follow, an example to be set to right the wrongs of such contempt to humans by the management of such an incompetent and non-caring organisation and to ensure Doctors are never again so contemptuous to care of the ill. There will be of course some amazing Angels caring but it is hard to believe that so many doctors can be off during such a busy time. May they one day have something come back for their lack of care and selfishness....good or bad, decided by right and/or wrong.

      mofstok - 2013-01-08 14:18

      Again, another moron blaming the doctors for the department's (and governments) incompetence and stuff-ups. Idiot.

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:33

      We just lost our Mum by a Doctor, who thankfully was on duty, but pushed for an opertaion that she was not strong enough for. It was far from good seeing her die in such agony from being cut up. Doctors are not gods. Thankfully we do not have such a sad situation as this report. Personally i am absolutely fed up with doctors prescribing drugs unknown in testsb when combined. We lost Moms to a combination but we are luckier than this readful report. Pharmaceutical self righteousness is respected by ignorance.

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:35

      You idiot! This hits the hearts of many of us. Our medical establishments are miraculous for injuries (er, when they actually work and care, such as this case seems to show this hospital not to be) etc but when it comes to prescribing and statistics, the industry has much to learn from the deaths that keep occurring in these places.

      mofstok - 2013-01-08 14:51

      So you resort to the infantile behaviour of blaming doctors as the cause of your problems? Bullsh*t! Grow up! These people save way more lives than lives lost due to the negligence of questionable or unethical practitioners (who are a minority), and no doctors I know consider themselves Gods. Get a life!

  • danie.smit.587 - 2013-01-08 14:02

    Could you expect more from a porter , possibly newly graduated , but really qualified with a black skin?

  • imoukangwe - 2013-01-08 14:07

    We were told governments frooze posts , so how come they complain of shortage of doctors ? And if you employ only 8 doctors for 288 beds what do you expect ? Can you work 24/7 the whole year without leaves ? ....

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 14:42

      It does get very worrying just how many hours these doctors work. they do need quality time off. How come when we do exams and such that we are told to have 15mins off every short amount of time and yet doctors work such long days and hours. None of us work properly that way. this is when profits come in before life. More teams are needed. Holidyas, yes, needed, but not ll at once and those managing these places, must think of life before profit or government stuff and targets. This whole world needs to change.

  • snoopy.snoopaloop - 2013-01-08 14:20

    Government can't even get the Basics right, But NO Lets inforce NHI! What an abortion we are staring in the face! May God have mercy on our souls!

  • adrian.k.andrews - 2013-01-08 14:21

    Constantly embarking on commission of enquiries; spending hundred of thousands of rands. One need not to be a rocket scientist to determine the problem!

  • imoukangwe - 2013-01-08 14:31

    We were told governments frooze posts , so how come they complain of shortage of doctors ? And if you employ only 8 doctors for 288 beds what do you expect ? Can you work 24/7 the whole year without leaves ? ....

  • flysouth - 2013-01-08 14:41

    What is the legal position here? I do not believe - in fact I am 99% certain - that in such circumstances the hospital has any legal right to deny the wishes of the mother. This needs a proper investigation - if I am right then heads must roll and indeed prosecutions of hospital staff/management be considered.

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 15:02


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