Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Phoenix.

Durban - Alarm bells have been set off after a “quarantined room” used to treat TB patients at the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital was allegedly breached, posing a threat to other patients.

The isolation room was found to be in contravention of infection, protection and control measures following a recent oversight visit by members of the DA’s KZN Legislature.

According to the party’s provincial health spokesperson, Dr Imran Keeka, who formed part of the site delegation, rooms used to isolate infected TB patients are in violation of basic medical regulatory measures.

“The tuberculosis isolation room, infection control measures fail to comply with certain rules that make it a hazard to other patients.

“Ventilation issues and the lack of infection room safety measures put other patients at risk of exposure and is a risk to everybody at the hospital.”

Keeka said the DA had written to the Department of Health for answers, only to discover the breach was known about for two years.

In a written reply to the DA, the department admitted the breach was discovered in 2015 by hospital management.

However, no immediate action to contain the breach was taken, he said.

The document, which POST has seen and was signed by department head Dr Sifiso Mtshali and MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo, confirmed that infrastructure alterations are only set to begin in February next year. 

This is despite calls from the National Office of Health Standards Compliance for immediate quality improvement plans.

Tuberculosis can be transmitted when an infected individual coughs or speaks. People nearby may breathe in the bacteria and become infected.

Keeka said the hospital had more than its fair share of disasters in the past.

“There have been tragic deaths of many babies as a result of Klebsiella infections, yet there appears to be little resolve on the part of the MEC and his officials to deal with this serious breach.”

The DA, he said, would this week write to the chairperson of KZN’s Health Portfolio Committee to insist Dhlomo appear before members to account for this transgression.

“We will also submit follow-up questions to the MEC in this regard.”

Minority Front councillor, Jonathan Annipen, blames poor management for the current crisis.

“The hospital is in a state of managerial crisis. This is bigger than just infection. There is a huge shortage of senior staff to deal with the influx of patients.”

KZN Department of Health spokesperson Desmond Motha said he was unaware of the situation and would look into the matter.

The hospital and National Office of Health Standards Compliance had not responded at the time of publication.