TOP CLASS: Groote Schuur Hospital offers a level of service on par with private hospitals, says the writer.
Cape Town - A growing tumour eating into the nasal passage of a Mitchells Plain man was diagnosed as a headache by staff at Groote Schuur Hospital after he went to the trauma unit to get help for the pain. Faried Jassiem, who felt too ill to go to work, went to the trauma unit after he felt he would pass out, but he never saw a doctor.

Jassiem’s wife, Zaafirah Jassiem, said: “A male nurse said to him why do you just come here with a headache? They became abrupt with him and told him to take a tablet and go home. They gave him a referral letter for Mitchells Plain Day Hospital.

“Sick as he was, and in pain, he had to get on a bus and travel to Mitchells Plain. On the bus his nose started bleeding. When he got to the day hospital, the nurse told him they might not see him that day.”

Zaafirah said her husband went back to the day hospital the next day in unbearable pain. By then his eye had shifted and he was experiencing double vision.

A doctor at the day hospital said it looked like Jassiem had suffered a stroke. He was instructed to go to the emergency unit. He arrived there at 11.45am, but was only attended to at 10pm.

Zaafirah said: “After waiting for 10 hours, the doctor told him the best we can do is to send you to the eye clinic, which only operates on Wednesdays. I find this so sad and heartbreaking that I had to fight, scream and threaten just so my husband can get the medical care due to him.

“How many other patients out there had to wait 10 to 12 hours to see a doctor? How many patients were chased away like dogs as their symptoms did not fall in the red category or emergency category and was misdiagnosed like my husband?”

Zaafirah said the staff at Groote Schuur Hospital and Mitchells Plain Day Hospital apologised for the poor service her husband received, after she contacted them, but no one was held accountable for the poor service that caused her husband trauma.

Provincial Department of Health spokesperson Mark van der Heever apologised for the experience the Jassiem family had endured and said the space-occupying lesions in the brain, which Zaarifah’s husband was diagnosed with, were not easy to diagnose.

“The diagnosis of an intra-cerebral SOL (space-occupying lesion) is notoriously difficult and often the neurological signs are too subtle to detect after an event of a seizure. The waiting time at all health facilities is totally dependent on the number of life-threatening cases at the facility.

“Facilities prioritise threats to life and limb which are visible, compared with those who present as stable patients. We would like to assure all the clients we serve that the department is continually looking at ways to streamline and improve its services.”


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Cape Argus