Durban - A grandmother who took her 2-year-old grandson to an ear, nose and throat specialist in Mount Edgecombe, says the doctor screamed at her then assaulted her in an altercation about the child’s mother.
Allegations of unprofessional conduct against Dr Niven Singh are being heard by a panel of the Health Professions’ Council of SA in uMhlanga.
Thaivanamal Naidoo, who took her friend Ronitha Ramraj with her when she and her grandson went to the doctor, explained what happened at the Life Mount Edgecombe Hospital last July.
Naidoo said the toddler had been referred to Singh by her general practitioner.
Singh had asked her questions about the boy’s mother, Pooveshni, in a “rude and belittling tone, but I took exception when he implied my daughter was a mental case”.
An emotional Naidoo testified that she told Singh her grandson was staying with her because his mother was having personal problems and was working in Joburg.
“He then asked if she was mental, and when Ronitha and I objected to that, he told us if we didn’t like the way he spoke to us we must take the baby and get out. I told him he must first give me back my money as I’d paid R500 in advance and he hadn’t treated my grandson.”
The altercation is alleged to have escalated when Singh threw the money in their direction, scattering it on the floor.
“He carried on screaming and Ronitha picked up the money as I hobbled on my crutch towards the door. He opened the door for us and said, ‘I did not say walk out I said get out’.”
Naidoo said the doctor grabbed her by the arm and pushed her into the corridor, where she lost her balance and fell. By then patients and receptionists had heard the commotion and were standing in the corridor when she fell.
“I suffer from Guillain Barre Syndrome, which causes weakness in the limbs, so it’s not hard for me to lose my balance, hence I use a crutch. I also have a chronic heart condition and my heart valve has been replaced twice,” said Naidoo.
Onlookers helped her up, and another doctor attended to her grandson. The matter was referred to the hospital’s management, which tried to mediate in the dispute before Naidoo reported it to the Health Professions’ Council of SA.
Singh’s lawyer, Altus Janse van Rensburg, accused Naidoo of misinterpreting the doctor’s questions when he enquired about her daughter. He also said she had laid the complaint because she wanted money from the doctor. He told the committee about how Naidoo’s lawyer had written to his client instructing him to pay R25 000 for her to withdraw the charges.
Naidoo denied this, saying: “The money is a lesson for him because I don’t want him to ever treat other patients like he treated me. I’m planning to donate whatever money I get to charity.”
The hearing was adjourned to October 23.