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File Picture. Personal Finance

Serious adverse events in Gauteng hospitals killed 3 832 patients in 2018

By LERATO SELEPE Time of article published Oct 30, 2019

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Johannesburg - The Gauteng MEC for Health has revealed that 3 832 patients died in public hospitals last year due to conditions arising from over 10 000 Serious Adverse Events (SAEs). 

According to the department, SAEs are events arising from the healthcare environment and which may impact the medical outcome on a patient by either lengthening their stay or further complicating their condition. 

Dr Bandile Masuku revealed that in a written answer to the Gauteng Democratic Alliance' shadow MEC for health Jack Bloom at the legislature

Bloom said SAE were events that result in unintended harm to the patient by an act of commission or omission rather than by the underlying disease or condition of the patient. He also said the deaths of the patients could have been avoided as they were as a result of negligence.

However, Gauteng Health spokesperson Kwara Kekana was quick to point out that SAEs were not necessarily medical negligence cases.

“Cases of medical negligence has to be proven, it is very careless and irresponsible of the DA to equate serious adverse events to medical negligence,” she said. 

She added that negligence means a failure to take proper care or breach of a duty of care, which will then result in damage. 

“In the last financial year, the Gauteng Department of Health had over 21 million patients that were seen in various facilities across the province, and of this number 0.057% were serious adverse incidents,” she said.

While Masuku said it was mandatory for all maternal deaths, neonatal deaths and fresh stillbirths to be reported on a monthly basis as serious adverse events regardless of whether they were avoidable or unavoidable, Bloom said he was . was most concerned by the 2 307 recorded deaths of newborn babies and 238 maternal deaths. 

There were also 866 septic caesarean sections and 1148 cases of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy which causes brain damage to children deprived of oxygen which Masuku said were regarded as serious adverse events. 

Bloom also said another indication of poor care was the 1 052 cases of hospital-acquired pressure sores which were reported as SAEs “as they have a direct impact on the patient’s average length of stay in hospital, increase the cost of treatment and may lead to body disfigurement.”

“Despite the high number of SAEs, only 77 cases were referred for disciplinary action,” he said. 

“These figures are highly disturbing. They highlight severe management problems in public hospitals and lack of consequence for medical mistakes which leads to court cases and huge payouts that drain the health budget,” he added.

He further added that the high number of deaths due to SAEs was a further evidence of public sector incompetence that would doom the proposed National Health Insurance which is administratively very complex.

Hospitals with most recorded SAEs:

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital 1763

Steve Biko Hospital 893

George Mukhari Hospital 766

Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital 722

Helen Joseph Hospital 644

Thelle Mogoerane Hospital 625

Tembisa Hospital 517

Sebokeng Hospital 511

Weskoppies Hospital 504

Kopanong Hospital 415

Bertha Gxowa Hospital 409

Tambo Memorial Hospital 393

Rahima Moosa Hospital 385

Kalafong Hospital 345

Leratong Hospital 323

 The Star

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