Steve Biko hospital denies negligent treatment of Eersterust woman
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Pretoria - Steve Biko Academic Hospital head Dr Mathabo Mathebula has denied any wrongdoing by staff in the case of an elderly woman left with a gaping hole in her buttocks after receiving treatment.
The family of Charmaine Slimmert, from Eersterust, complained of the poor condition the 66-year-old was left in following her admission to the hospital for a rare stroke.
According to Slimmert’s daughter, Violene Anderson, her mother was first admitted to the hospital on January 16.
Anderson explained that her mother stayed in the hospital for three weeks, with doctors’ only explanation being that she had suffered a rare spinal stroke and they still needed to run a battery of tests to determine what could have happened.
On February 17, the hospital allegedly called the family to indicate that Slimmert was being discharged and that they had to come to the wound care department to get instructions on how to treat her bedsores.
Upon arrival, they found Slimmert had a huge, rotting bedsore that covered her most of her buttocks.
And, to make matters worse, the family claimed she was only given Tramadol and Panado for the pain.
Anderson said after attempts to take care of the wound proved difficult, and with her mother’s condition worsening, the decision was taken to have her readmitted.
However, Mathebula said although they could not give specific details due to patient confidentiality, Slimmert had been discharged with huge bedsores, and that her daughter had been informed.
Mathebula said the patient was treated for the stroke and bedsores and was only discharged when both had stabilised.
According to Mathebula, bedsores often became chronic and were treated on an outpatient basis if they were not septic.
“Bedsores develop naturally when a part of the body is under pressure. If a patient has a stroke, they are unable to move parts of their body freely and a pressure sore develops due to the lack of circulation.”
Despite this incident, Mathebula insisted that it was not a regular occurrence at the hospital as patients were turned frequently and some were nursed in special beds with mattresses designed to relieve the pressure.
She said despite all the precautions taken, some patients still developed bedsores for various reasons, such as nutrition status and age, amongst other things, which were out of the hospital’s control.
“The hospital would admit if there was negligence, but cannot be held accountable for natural complications of certain disease processes.
“Doctors communicate with family members as often as possible, sometimes on a daily basis. However, with the advent of Covid-19, this communication has suffered due to having to avoid infecting both patients and their families.”
Mathebula said they met with the family on Friday to address the complaints.
Anderson confirmed that the family was contacted by the hospital and that her mother’s treatment had improved tremendously.
She said her mother was being turned every two hours, given protein shake and stronger pain medication.
Despite this, Anderson said the family was not completely satisfied with the hospital’s explanation of what happened to her mother, and would be considering other avenues.
“We’re not completely happy, but we are glad something is finally being done. The plan now is finding a way forward as having to juggle taking care of my one-month-old grandchild and my elderly mother will still prove difficult,” she said.