Wrong patient gets heart surgery

2014-08-20 09:44

Johannesburg - An 83-year-old woman who was being treated for a respiratory infection in the Mediclinic Kimberley underwent heart surgery when she was mistaken for another patient, Beeld reported on Wednesday.

Mediclinic spokesperson Denise Coetzee told the newspaper a misunderstanding between two specialists led to Rita du Plessis being operated on on 25 July.

She was in the same ward as another elderly woman and both were patients of the same physician.

"The physician requested the surgeon to take his patient to theatre for a procedure to remove excessive moisture around the heart," she was quoted as saying.

"Unfortunately, he got confused with their surnames and he gave the wrong patient's name to the surgeon over the phone."

Coetzee told Beeld that Du Plessis was not able to give permission for the operation herself and the surgeon had to contact her husband.

During ward rounds the physician realised his mistake when he saw that Du Plessis was not there and he was told she was in surgery.

Beeld reported that the physician contacted the family to apologise and after the surgery the surgeon called Du Plessis's family to tell them the operation was a success.

According to the report, the hospital apologised for the confusion and the hospital, the surgeon, and the anaesthetist did not charge for the operation.

  • Chris McComb - 2014-08-20 09:50

    Good Grief. And this a private hospital...

      Chez Kri - 2014-08-20 10:11

      My 30 year old cousin died giving birth in a private hospital near Durban. This was nearly 3 years ago and the case is still pending!! The trick is the right doctor, not the right hospital.

      jacques.potgieter.313 - 2014-08-20 10:14

      Lawsuit in 3...2...1

      Genet Joobs - 2014-08-20 10:32

      @Leonard - I agree with you about the regression in medical standards. But what we are seeing more and more of is the couldn't give a f&*c attitude in medical staff - just as long as they get their big fees.

      Wilhelm Van Niekerk - 2014-08-20 10:32

      Welcome to Africa....

      Adrian Bruwer - 2014-08-20 10:32

      Pathetic! Disgraceful! Sue them.

      Havalarf Allday - 2014-08-20 11:09

      @Sfiso Mzila. You have so much to be grateful for in your life. Wishing someone dead is not true to a believer such as yourself:)

      Zuma Etolls - 2014-08-20 11:46

      @Sfiso yes you rule but we live in nice houses and you live in a shack. What does that tell you about your ruling party?

      kmw13047 - 2014-08-20 11:48

      Chris, you will not believe what goes on at Private hospitals! The so called "doctors" confused me with another woman that needed blood??

      Kimberley Bakkie Centre SouthCircular - 2014-08-20 12:05

      Chris This was not the hospital but the doctors.

      Punungwe - 2014-08-20 12:05

      What happened to the good old system of keeping notes in files about each patient. That way the doctor would not have to take instructions over the phone, but read it in the notes on what needs to be done. Even if the doctor got the names wrong over the phone, the hospital filing and bed allocation system/nurses should have been a second line of verification.

      Shayne Janks Nicolas - 2014-08-20 12:58

      This woman is 85!! She could have died in that type of surgery!! Not acceptable!

      Jerry Hattrick - 2014-08-20 20:28

      One more good story to tell! It sucks big time!

      Neville Graham - 2014-08-20 22:17

      Wonder what Chris Barnard would've said, had he still been around, considering the high standards he set in the medical profession.

      Allen Gumbi - 2014-08-21 07:19

      As much as this was a mistake , the old lady has just got herself a free important and expensive surgery ... it wasa success why sue ?!

      Punungwe - 2014-08-21 15:02

      Allen Gumbi, I wish you would go to hospital and the doctors would do a vasectomy on your by mistake. Then you would have got free important surgery and would not have any reason to complain - going by your logic.

  • Anne Thrax - 2014-08-20 09:51


      Robert Sidney - 2014-08-20 09:53

      Ha ha ha, I just LOVE your name!

      Xavier7034 - 2014-08-20 10:28 could have been worse....Ee Bola :-)

      Anne Thrax - 2014-08-20 10:37 real difference...

      Robert Sidney - 2014-08-20 11:16

      sokka real difference.

  • Adv Goitseone Legoete - 2014-08-20 09:52

    Eisg damn

  • Justin Parkinson - 2014-08-20 09:54


  • dunbabr - 2014-08-20 09:54

    Mediclinic must be employing doctors and nurses out of the public health care system. Honestly!! I suppose paper and clip charts have not yet been discovered yet in Kimberly.

      Chez Kri - 2014-08-20 10:35

      That is a bit unfair. There are dedicated, honourable and hard working doctors in the public health sector and some money grabbing, greedy and arrogant doctors in private practise.

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-20 10:48

      I think these are your kinds in as much as you would wish it wasn't!!

      Jennifer du Toit - 2014-08-20 12:40

      They dom they cal them carers and scrub techs these people are not qualified nurses are doctors or techncians, medi clinic have drawn up there own syllabus for them train them for 6 months and then put them to work on patients lives all in the name of saving money they pay a scrub tech less than half of what a theatre registered nurse would pay they are not registered with council and there is no accountability, the mistakes that are made are mind blowing patients are fed before theatre, the wrong limbs are prepped in theatre, patients at bedrest are mobilised, the sepsis rate is unacceptable in these facilities and the list goes on, so that medi clinic can make more money and pay less to the staff. I have witnessed this first hand have been in touch with Council they say there is nothing they can do about it, and medi clinic look at me as if I am just a trouble causer so that's why I just don't work there anymore

  • Gift L Matjuda - 2014-08-20 09:54

    Met eish ja

  • Chris Bester - 2014-08-20 09:56

    Net in Suid Afrika!!

      Robert Sidney - 2014-08-20 10:15

      Google it - this happens all over the world.

  • Jeffrey Solomon - 2014-08-20 09:57

    The hospital and the surgeon apologised, and the anaesthetist did not charge for the operation. What utter Bull. Sue their pants off!

      Rob Martin - 2014-08-20 10:07

      If their brains were made of ink they wouldn't have enough for a full stop.

      Rocky Bell - 2014-08-20 21:20

      If their brains were axle grease they wouldn't have enough to grease the dynamo on a lightening bugs ass.

  • Richard - 2014-08-20 09:57

    Well at least it was not a sex change operation.

      Gift L Matjuda - 2014-08-20 09:59


      Marie de la Rey - 2014-08-20 10:36

      Or a heart transplant - I get ice cold just thinking of it!

      Raymond Van Den Brink - 2014-08-21 04:23

      Yes, because that patient would come out there sexless.

      Allen Gumbi - 2014-08-21 07:27

      Omg you are funny... can't imagine waking up with breast and no ...... lol

  • Kevin Walker - 2014-08-20 09:57

    Hire yourself a good lawyer "lady" you have a good case of negligence ++.....then enjoy your latter years in life !!

      Marie de la Rey - 2014-08-20 10:36


      Raymond Van Den Brink - 2014-08-21 04:31

      If this "wrong" operation leaves you disabled and dependant on continual medical care, then no amount of money will give you a good life to enjoy. Not worth it, but sue him dry.

  • Sudesh Jagernath - 2014-08-20 09:58

    Well. Time to pay!!!

  • Beaulah Fortuin - 2014-08-20 09:59

    Sue them!!!! Mediclinic hey? Kimberley

      Tatenda Mai Makanaka Mlambo-Mahleko - 2014-08-20 10:03

      But she got a new heart, probably better than the one she had!!!!

      Joban Roberts - 2014-08-20 10:39

      ..and at 83 years, her heart and bodily functions could probably have done without the stress of the unnecessary operation and negligence of the doctors who couldn't be bothered to verify the patient's name before administering drugs and cutting them open.

      kmw13047 - 2014-08-20 11:59

      As far as I know, they do not consider you for a transplant if you are 83?

      Raymond Van Den Brink - 2014-08-21 04:33

      They have a good disposal place for their mistakes. It is called "THE BIG HOLE"

  • Ntshadi Amelia Mogashoa - 2014-08-20 10:02


  • Toi Toy Story Mtshali - 2014-08-20 10:02

    Was it Dr Jordan?

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-20 10:50

      Nee, Van der Merwe

      Zuma Etolls - 2014-08-20 11:48

      Haha good one!

      Michael Warren - 2014-08-21 14:45

      No, Dr Heartless

  • Claudio Winzell Tlale - 2014-08-20 10:02

    South Africa...

  • Danie Malan - 2014-08-20 10:03

    Quess she is suppose to be grateful the operation was a success and she did not die

  • Monique Rossouw - 2014-08-20 10:06


  • Wardan Chen - 2014-08-20 10:08

    Reminds me of a song by Weird Al - He got the wrong foot amputated

      Traz Onthis - 2014-08-20 10:16

      I think its by The Offspring

      Chez Kri - 2014-08-20 10:33

      No, Offspring did the original and Weirs Al the joke one.

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-20 10:50


  • Khutso Bokaba - 2014-08-20 10:13

    Whats the health professionals council saying about this? Unacceptable

      Phillip Lekalakala - 2014-08-20 11:47

      Surely the HPCSA will charge the Physician with gross negligence, add to that a law suite might be looming.

  • Sandra Brown - 2014-08-20 10:15

    Very nice of them not to charge her foe the op she shouldn't have had .........

  • Ann Goslin - 2014-08-20 10:16

    That the audacity of the people involved that they would not charge for the operation. In the USA they would have the pants sued off them. Typical SA - pat on the hand sorry. If the patient had died in surgery what would the consequences have been for all the professionals involved - oh sorry the patient died but you wont have to pay for the surgery. This is shocking and SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED to happen. While one can understand misunderstandings can happen but in the medical fraternity this should not happen, there are checks and balances to be made especially when lives are concerned. Apology and don't pay for your unnecessary surgery is not good enough.

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-20 10:52

      We don't know if they not charging, only that an apology has been extended

  • Christine Ford - 2014-08-20 10:18

    So they didn't charge, big deal. What if there were complications and the poor innocent lost their life? Yes, sue the hospital but it still doesn't bring the person back. A close family member of mine was in hospital and diagnosed with cancer only to realise on one of our visits she had the wrong name band on her arm. The poor patient that was given the good news she never had cancer had to be told of the mistake. This is a good private hospital where medical bills went up to close on 2 million.

  • Just Me - 2014-08-20 10:19

    To have excessive flueds drained is no joke a I underwent the same op twice in one year and,mim still not the same. It is rathe difficult to move around and,myou end up in icu afterwards as access is gained through the space between your diagfragma and your chest bone. How can a mistake like this happen in a modern age of medicine? The doctor should be held accountable for his mistake and a mere appology to the family is not suffice. They should sue the doctor for the wrong operation, eventhough they are not charging her a penny for it. It is just so wrong.

  • Rodney Visser - 2014-08-20 10:19

    Did not charge for the operation? I should bloody think so. I sincerely hope this person charges those responsible.

  • Ann Goslin - 2014-08-20 10:20

    Something else comes to mind. When the surgeon opened up the patient did he not realise there was nothing wrong with the heart. Stop the op and call the other surgeon first before continuing. OMW what a bunch of "mishaps"

  • Danielle van Wyk - 2014-08-20 10:21

    The nursing staff should have made sure that the 'right' patient was send to theatre... What happened to checking the band on the arm and the file and then at the handover check again at the door of the theatre? In the olden days these things did not happen, bec there was all these 'checkpoints'...

      kmw13047 - 2014-08-20 12:04

      That's too much to ask of them....

      Duits - 2014-08-21 08:08

      Agree with you, I worked in theater, you asked the patient her surname, if she could not answer then a family member, you checked the file, you checked the arm band and you made triple sure it was the correct patient. I would sue them!

  • Musa Duke Nkuna - 2014-08-20 10:21

    So everyone should be thankful that they didn't charge? What a joke! The family should sue the 2 physicians and the hospital.

  • Johann Serfontein - 2014-08-20 10:21

    The funny bit is that the fact that they didn't charge voids their malpractice insurance, as an admission of guilt. So if they get sued, it's for their own account...

      Mandy Komlosy - 2014-08-21 14:17

      whahahahaha - if true - that is enormously funny !!! thank you for sharing hehehehe

  • Bheki Mkhize - 2014-08-20 10:22

    Is it really about the money "the hospital did not charge for the operation" why would they really they should be charged instead.

  • Musa Duke Nkuna - 2014-08-20 10:22

    So everyone should be thankful that they didn't charge? What a joke! The family should sue the 2 physicians and the hospital.

  • Thina Mapipa - 2014-08-20 10:22


      ReunionofIntelligentMinds - 2014-08-20 16:06

      what would have happened if she died in teatre? Easy - the family would have been told that she died on the operation table, giving a plausible excuse and that's that. There is a saying that the doctors bury their mistakes.

  • Amanda Terblans - 2014-08-20 10:23

    they did not charge for the operation !!! do they realise there is a huge lawsuit heading their way .... inexcusable mistake .

  • citiliner63 - 2014-08-20 10:24

    If only news24 could tell us what heart operation the patient had, there are loads of various types of heart surgeries. I just hope it wasn't a bypass graft , maybe just angioplasty. News24 need to be more factual & specific in their reporting . Anyway I'm glad everything ended up kind of well.

      Maretha Mineur - 2014-08-20 11:01

      You are right that this is rubbish journalism, right up News24's usual standards. They are not just making a mountain out of a molehill, in fact they have now made it into the whole of the Andes mountain range!

  • Emma Sanderson - 2014-08-20 10:27

    What a stupid comment - they did not charge for the operation. How could they she didn't ask for it.

      Phillip Lekalakala - 2014-08-20 12:37

      In other words they are saying, we did you a favour for free.

  • Hemlock - 2014-08-20 10:28

    We can only hope we never need surgery!

  • Mthokozisi Sihiya - 2014-08-20 10:28

    Sometimes innocent people are dying in hopitals because of Doctor's nigligence.

      kmw13047 - 2014-08-20 12:07

      Most of the times......

  • Nobantu Mbude - 2014-08-20 10:30

    Is the physician and surgeon affirmative action appointees?

      nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-20 10:55

      They must be

      Jupes Sikhosana - 2014-08-20 11:55

      Even if they were, that has no relevance in the story.

  • Kim Wilson - 2014-08-20 10:30

    Would be interested to know what the surgeon did to make it a success seeing as her heart didn't have a problem?

  • Denise Bullock Grant - 2014-08-20 10:30

    I think you should do away with the comment page in this Country because I will probably end up in court for what I have to say and then would probably be shot by someone who has a gun in court

      Obed Mazwi - 2014-08-20 10:47

      Just don't read the comments, nobody is holding a gun your head, nxaa..

  • Dominique Fuller - 2014-08-20 10:32

    they say they did not charge for the operation (I am guessing they mean the theatre time, medication and equipment used in the operation) - but what about the extra time this lady had to spend in hospital recuperating after this unnecessary surgery?

  • Marie de la Rey - 2014-08-20 10:34

    I am absolutely in a state of shock that this should even happen!?? Doesn't the patient wear an armband with the medical condition written clearly on it? Doesn't anyone check this? HUH!!???

      Rocky Bell - 2014-08-20 21:30

      Patients limbs have been amputated erroneously. Be aware when operated on. Up and until you are pushed into the operating room you can make your voice heard.!! Just remind them (on the operating table) what you're in for - will make them think twice.

  • Maretha Mineur - 2014-08-20 10:35

    Kimberley Mediclinic has no facilities for heart surgery at all and none whatsoever is done there. The mistake is of course unfortunate , but the procedure- as reported in other papers, was a plural tap, a relatively small procedure and not very invasive. Journalists do love to over sensationalise anything medical.

      Maretha Mineur - 2014-08-20 13:43

      ...pleural tap..

      Wanda Gildenhuys - 2014-08-20 22:18

      Even so...its no excuse..there are more than enough medical charts for every patient..the doctor's should check..what would you say if it was your mother or child?

  • Motofogo Mulilo - 2014-08-20 10:38

    PVT Hospital?! Must be devastating when you cannot blame AA or BEE.

      Rocky Bell - 2014-08-20 21:32

      blame apartheid...all their fault!

  • Suzanne Hess - 2014-08-20 10:41

    they beta not charge, omw, what the hell is our health system coming to if u cnt even trust the private health sector. un-flippen-believable

  • nandipha.pepu - 2014-08-20 10:45

    Unbelievably do u make such a mistake? Does she now have a new heart or what, what was the heart surgery about! I hope there won't be any complications from this surgery

  • JeanClaude Vandamme - 2014-08-20 10:47

    they did not charge for the operation? ! WTF! Sue the bastards

  • William Lebotschy - 2014-08-20 10:49

    So nice of them not to charge for the operation. The Hipocratic oath is not dead.

  • Buso Magobholi - 2014-08-20 10:52

    It is important to identify de patients

  • criticallyhonest - 2014-08-20 10:53

    You can blame QUALITY SYSTEMS for this and a lot more. No, wrong, you can blame the way that quality systems are implemented! SANAS, ISO etc are all about documenting process. Quality comes from peoples actions and attitudes, not from structures, paperwork, and processes. Because of the increasing focus away from people, those people no longer need to care and often do just enough to get through the next process control/accreditation....even to the point of leaving their record keeping to the last minute before the inspection....needless to say, retrospective record keeping almost always means that the tasks were not done ON TIME and TO STANDARD!

  • Rene Marais - 2014-08-20 10:55

    Ek kan nie glo dat 'n dokter met jare se ondervinding; nie tussen sy pasiënte kan onderskei nie! Alles word tog sorgvuldig nagegaan voordat daar geopereer word. Die naambandjie moes mos 'n aanduiding wees dat dit nie die regte pasiënt is nie! Hierdie voorval is maar net een; baie van die ander word geen woord oor gerep nie!!