Family seeks answers after live maggots found in mom’s leg wound
Durban - Rani Nadesan was admitted to hospital because she had sores on her leg. But, given the treatment she received, she begged for a discharge. When she eventually returned home, her wound was infested with maggots.
More than 10 years ago, Nadesan, 55, was diagnosed with osteoarthritis. Over the years, it became more difficult for her to walk. Her legs would often swell and she needed ongoing treatment.
Nadesan is 55 and lives in Canelands with her family. Her husband works as a driver on a part-time basis and they have three children. Her sons, 36 and 26, have left home while her teenage daughter lives with her. So too does her mother and sister, both of whom, help care for her.
Mary Naidoo, her sister, said in February this year, Nadesan developed three blisters on her left leg. After a few days they became inflamed and filled with pus.
The women used home remedies to treat the sores and, initially, had some success. But, as her pain worsened and Nadesan was unable to walk, the family called an ambulance. On March 27, Nadesan was admitted to Osindisweni Hospital, outside Verulam.
Hospitals are not allowing visitors due to the coronavirus pandemic but Nadesan’s family did what they could to keep in touch with her. Every time they messaged or spoke to her, she told them she was in pain.
At the beginning of this month, Timmara, Nadesan’s daughter, went to the hospital to drop off some toiletries for her mother, and the security guard allowed her to see her mother.
“My niece found her mother on a bed in the ward covered with a towel. My sister said she had fallen off the bed and had burst a vein in her leg. She begged my niece to take her home.
“My niece left the hospital in tears. She did not know what to do. She told us that it seemed as though nobody was looking after her mom.”
Last Wednesday, Nadesan was discharged. When the family got to the hospital to fetch her, she was screaming in pain.
Naidoo said the hospital prescribed pain medication and said she had leg cellulitis, a bacterial skin condition. The family were informed that they needed to take her after three days to a local clinic in Verulam to get the wound dressed.
Naidoo said that the next morning she was getting ready to feed Nadesan breakfast when she saw a maggot on the pillow under her leg.
"We decided to open the bandage and clean the wound. The bandage was stuck to her leg and it was difficult to remove. There was also the stench of rotting flesh. Then we saw it … maggots crawling out of the open wounds."
Naidoo said the family called the hospital and asked to speak to the doctor. They were told to take Nadesan back to the hospital. However, given their experience, they decided not to.
The family borrowed money and took Nadesan to a general practitioner on Friday morning.
"He advised us to clean the wound with warm salt water. The doctor also administered a vitamin drip and gave her an antibiotic injection to ease the pain. We requested a referral letter to another hospital."
On Saturday, Nadesan was admitted to the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix.
“I was with her in the casualty ward where they conducted blood tests before she was admitted. I was pleased with the treatment. They also managed to get her a cot-bed, as she could not sit in the wheelchair for too long due to the pain," said Naidoo.
According to Naidoo, the family was informed that if the wounds did not heal, the doctor would have to consider amputating the leg.
"This is very traumatic for us, especially Rani. We believe she was neglected at the first hospital. How does a person go in to treat a sore and come out with it being worse?”
The family has written to the KZN Department of Health asking that Nadesan’s treatment be investigated.
Ntokozo Maphisa, a spokesperson for the department, said the department was concerned by the allegations. According to Maphisa, the department was not aware of the matter until it was raised by POST.
“The department is prohibited by law from publicly divulging confidential details about the clinical condition of any patient, and management thereof. However, we can confirm that a particular patient was initially admitted and treated accordingly for a week, and then discharged. The patient was asked to return to the hospital for further treatment, if the need arose.
“Upon engagement with a particular family yesterday (Monday, April 12, when he was first made aware of this matter) the hospital chief executive has established that the patient was subsequently taken to another health-care facility, where the patient received further care.
“The hospital is continuing to gather more facts regarding these allegations and will provide a full report to the department in due course.”