Hospital mum over spearfisherman row

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Copy of ND DROWNING~2 INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS A spearfisherman died after getting into difficulty at this spot near Brighton Beach. He had allegedly been refused treatment at King Edward Hospital before being admitted after a 45-minute squabble between the paramedics and hospital staff.

Durban - A paramedic who argued with doctors and nurses at King Edward VIII Hospital to admit an unconscious spearfisherman is still waiting for the KZN Department of Health to provide him with answers to why he had to negotiate for his patient to be treated.

Garrith Jamieson, a Rescue Care paramedic is angry and is demanding that the health department own up.

The department of health did not respond to e-mailed queries.

He treated the 36-year-old Queensburgh man who died on Monday.

While he could not say if the 45 minutes he spent pleading for the man to be treated at King Edward would have saved his life, he was “disgusted” at the hospital’s attitude. He has since written to the MEC for Health demanding answers.

The man had been spearfishing with a friend near Brighton Beach on Sunday when they had problems in a vicious riptide that pulled them out to sea. Lifeguards were able to pull the man to shore while his friend managed to swim to safety.

Jamieson said the man had a feint pulse by the time he arrived and took him to hospital.

In his letter, he said he by-passed Wentworth hospital, which was nearer to the scene, and headed straight to King Edward as it has more advanced medical equipment.

An Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) paramedic had also called King Edward to alert medical staff there that a critically injured patient was en route, Jamieson said.

Jamieson alleged that when he got to King Edward, he argued with hospital staff for 45 minutes about whether or not to admit the man.

Hospital staff wanted him to take the man to Wentworth Hospital.

During that time, according to his letter of complaint, the paramedics continued to give him life support.

Jamieson said that he was told to go to the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) by a doctor, although he queried this as drowning victims were normally treated as trauma patients.

In the AMU he said there were three nurses and one patient, and he was told by the nurses to wait for the doctor.

The doctor allegedly told them that he could not accept the patient as he did not have a ventilator. When told EMRS had called ahead, the doctor asked for the number, and went off to call them to complain, Jamieson said.

“This took some time and while he was on the phone the nurses sat watching us bagging our patient. I requested monitoring devices and was told that the nurses would not assist at all unless the doctor told them to,” Jamieson wrote in his complaint.

After about 15 minutes the doctor returned and told them to go to another hospital, Jamieson said.

Jamieson refused, telling nurses that moving him to another hospital could cost him his life.

The doctor came back again and told them to take the patient back to trauma where he was finally treated. The entire process lasted 45 minutes, Jamieson said.

He said the battle to have the critical man admitted at King Edward was also witnessed by a metro policeman.

Daily News

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