Limpopo health department cries foul after patient waits eight hours to see a doctor

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Siloam Hospital, outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare/GroundUp
Siloam Hospital, outside Thohoyandou in Limpopo. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare/GroundUp

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The Limpopo health department calls the public and people escorting patients to their facilities to immediately report any dissatisfaction or experience of poor service delivery to the facility managers.

This comes after the department learnt about a woman patient living with a disability waiting for eight hours to be seen by a doctor at Siloam Hospital outside of Nzhelele in the Vhembe district in Limpopo on Monday.

According to the department, such incidents were common at the public health facilities in the province and many patients had experienced lost files whenever they visited the hospitals.

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The provincial department’s spokesperson, Neil Shikwambana, said the patient was at the filing station at the hospital at about 8am on Monday.

He added she was a known chronic patient at the hospital who was receiving therapy, including rehabilitation by the physiotherapy team:

She was advised that her file had gone missing and had to wait while the team was searching for it since the doctors and all clinicians attending to her needed her file for the sake of her clinical history and medication.

“The file was eventually found around lunchtime. The patient was seen and her medication was prescribed and dispensed. Our physiotherapist committed to visiting the patient at her home this coming Friday for further management and treatment.”

He said after analysing the unfortunate incident, the department felt it was important to remind the public about some of the measures it had put in place to address such incidents:

The department is in the process of scanning, archiving and refiling all our medical records, starting with inactive files.

“This process has started to free up spaces among our facilities, especially for active files such as this one. Due to a lack of filing spaces, our patients’ files are stored in many different places in our hospitals, resulting in their loss.”

He said the department had now introduced a pre-booking system where patients who were given a return date must inform the triage nurse about their return date when they give back their file to the filing station after seeing the doctor and collecting their medication.

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“What we then do daily before knocking off is retrieve files for patients coming the following day. In that way, patients don’t have to wait for a long time to receive their files. Unfortunately, this system is rendered non-functional in most cases because patients don’t honour their dates and, in some cases, when files are retrieved and patients do not show up, the files end up getting lost. This is something that our patients need to improve on to render pre-bookings effective.”

Shikwambana added although this did not apply to the current case, patients were again encouraged to visit their local clinics for minor ailments or register on the Central Chronic Medicines Dispensing and Distribution for chronic medication as this would reduce congestion in the outpatient department and allow staff to focus on cases like this one.


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