Pretoria - Grief was written all over 90-year-old Daisy Moagi’s face as she sat on her daughter, Paulina Mosupyoe’s bed on Wednesday, surrounded by family, friends and residents. They had come to commiserate with her after her daughter died on Saturday - just hours after being treated and sent home by doctors at the Jubilee District Hospital in Tshwane.
Moagi lives not far from Mosupyoe’s home in Temba, Hammanskraal. When her daughter suffered heart complications and lost consciousness on Saturday, she watched helplessly as her grandchildren struggled to carry their mother from the house to the car.
The 69-year-old former matron of Jubilee District Hospital had returned from the hospital just before 9am, after being rushed there by daughter Ntabeng Mosupyoe four hours earlier when she had difficulty breathing and sharp pains in her chest.
She was treated and sent home with an appointment for March 22 with the cardiac department.
“Our granny came to see her after we came back, and had to watch her struggle to breathe and lose consciousness as we took her back to hospital,” said Ntabeng’s older sister, Pearl Mosupyoe.
On Wednesday, the granny sat in her daughter’s bedroom as mourners poured in to pay their respects and make funeral arrangements.
“She is distraught, traumatised and keeps on asking why her child was taken before her,” Pearl said.
The trauma was exacerbated by the circumstances in which her daughter died. Barely five hours earlier Pearl, Ntabeng and an aunt had been told to take her home from hospital. This was despite evidence that Pearl, a professional nurse, found when she looked through her mother’s hospital file.
She found that her mother had been classified a critical patient, that X-rays showed her heart was “swollen”, her heart rate had been at least 20 times below the average and her blood pressure too high.
Ntabeng had found her mother struggling to breathe and drenched in sweat at 4am. The pensioner and subdistrict nurse complained of intense heat and was vomiting. “She was weak and could not walk, so I called neighbours to help me get her to my car to go to the hospital.”
There, the patient was put on oxygen, and X-rayed on the instruction of a doctor who said her heart was swollen. He prescribed medication and sent her home.
Once at home she took her medication and got back into bed. A few hours later Ntabeng found her mother hyperventilating and complaining of excruciating chest pains.
“We again called our neighbours to help us get her into the car. She was very weak, she said the pain was too much, and death would be better, then she collapsed in our arms,” a sobbing Ntabeng said. Those were her mother’s last words.
They carried their mother to the car, leaving a distressed Moagi behind. In the hospital’s resuscitation room, staff fitted an oxygen mask and started checking for vital signs while Pearl went through the file to see what had been found and done by staff.
Ntabeng then noticed fluids flowing down her mother’s face and no movement. “I asked them if she was breathing and they said no.”
Said Pearl: “Under normal circumstances she should have been declared a schedule two patient requiring extended emergency care and admitted for 24-hour observation.”
The family believes not enough attention had been given to their mom and that the doctor discharged her prematurely without considering her age, condition and stay at Steve Biko Academic Hospital a week earlier. “They could have kept her there instead of expecting us to keep her alive at home,” Ntabeng said.
The Department of Health said when the patient was brought back, she was dead. The hospital is investigating the cause of death.