Patient tells of critical blood loss, near death, open infected wound in hospital hell

2017-01-17 14:09
Van der Westhuizen's injured hand. (Photos supplied)

Van der Westhuizen's injured hand. (Photos supplied)

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Durban - A Pinetown resident whose right arm was slashed in an attempted hijacking last month now fears losing the use of his limb after he says indifferent hospital staff left the wound open for hours on end.

Riaan van der Westhuizen, 31, also says that he lay unattended in the casualty ward unit of RK Khan Hospital in Chatsworth before his heart stopped.

Only when his wife started CPR did her frantic screams gain the attention of medical staff, who rushed him into theatre.

With a critical loss of blood, Van der Westhuizen said his heart stopped three times while undergoing surgery.

His brush with death was the beginning of his two-week ordeal in the hospital.

He says his wound was left open for hours on end and his complaints ignored.

It eventually became infected.

Van der Westhuizen told News24 that his ordeal began when he was in his bakkie on December 28 and an apparent hijacker attacked him.

“I had been driving with my fiancée to her mother’s house. I stopped at a robot and a guy came through my window with a knife,” he said.

“I pulled off and he cut my arm quite badly. He cut all the arteries."

He managed to drive to a nearby clinic and collapsed on the floor as he got out the bakkie.

An ambulance rushed to his aid and transported him to the state medical facility.

“I lay in casualty bleeding for two hours before I was seen. I basically died and my wife jumped on me and started to resuscitate me. Then a doctor saw this and intervened and rushed me into theatre,” he said.

“They lost me three times in theatre… all my veins collapsed because I lost so much blood.”

Van der Westhuizen spent two days in ICU before being moved into a ward.

He fears this move, and the treatment he claims to have received at the hands of indifferent nurses, could cost him the use of his arm.

“Every second day they opened my wound to clean it but they would leave it open for six hours before they cleaned it and dressed it again. They ignored me when I complained about this. People have so many problems in this ward and I didn’t want my arm open because I was worried I would catch something,” he said. 

“The orthopaedic surgeon came to me and said they needed to do a tendon and nerve repair in an operation and so last week, every day, they would starve me and then in the afternoon they would come and say that the surgery had to be delayed.”

“They took me into theatre on the Friday. The surgeon went through my file and found out that I had an infection, they had not even said anything about it to him. I blame the nurses for leaving my arm open,” Van der Westhuizen said.

“You don’t want to see this place on the inside. Now I am in this shitty place and they came to me wanting to expose my arm. I told them to get everything ready so they can clean it and close it. Because of the way it was handled before I already have an infection."

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health said that they would respond to emailed questions at 14:00. No response had been received at the time of publishing.

UPDATE: KZN health dept rubbishes negligence claims

Read more on:    durban  |  healthcare

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