Sickening service

Neville Hendricks, Portland

I was admitted at Melomed Mitchell’s Plain for an operation on my left hand and discharged on Sunday June 12, at 1pm.

While waiting for my medication, I felt very nauseous and I started to vomit and I was sweating rather badly.

I was told by the nursing staff to get back into bed and to wait for the doctor.

I was not re-admitted after signing the discharge forms.

When the doctor arrived, I was referred to another doctor to perform a scan on my heart. This doctor never arrived and the scan was conducted by the sister and I was told the doctor would see me.

The doctor arrived at 4pm and attended to two patients who were next to me. Then he went to a third patient and I could hear in his tone of voice that all was not well.

He then washed his hands and wiped them dry on the ward’s curtains.

I then asked the sister who that doctor was because his actions were very unprofessional.

He must have heard my remarks as he was to report back on my ECG but promptly just walked out the ward.

I then asked the sister whether the doctor was going to see me and she replied that he was going his office to fetch a mask and gloves. I waited until 5pm and asked the sister where the doctor was and she said that the doctor had left. I then noticed the box of gloves and face masks on the table next to the wash basin where the doctor had washed his hands.

I inquired by the ward management regarding the doctor and was told he would see me soon.

At 6pm, I requested a discharge from the ward because I could no longer take all the lies.

I was refused my folder because I wanted to go to Gatesville hospital, which is also part of Melomed.

I was told that the doctor would come and see me but I refused to listen to more lies.

I was offered supper as a peace offering but I rejected and I refused to sign the discharge form that was given to me.

I then threatened to go to the police station and demanded my folder.

This is the short version of the story. I hope you can do something to stop the mismanagement of patients at our private hospitals where people get treated worst than animals.

* Randal Pedro, Melomed marketing and public relations manager, responds:

We first and foremost wish to thank you for providing us with the opportunity to meaningfully investigate the patient’s allegations and concerns. We have, in this regard, perused the said patient’s medical folder and have conducted interviews with the relevant staff members.

We wish to note that the said investigation has now been concluded, and accordingly advise as follows:

* For the sake of context we wish to advise that all of our patients are admitted to our hospital by specialist doctors, who are private independent practitioners practising for their own account.

In this regard the ethical rules of the Health Professions Council of South Africa (“HPCSA”), preclude private hospitals from employing doctors to perform clinical duties.

Furthermore patients are prioritised in terms of acuity levels as well as patient ratios and ward rounds are conducted based on clinical markers and indicators, this being at the clinical discretion of the attending clinician.

* As a point of departure we wish to advise that our nursing records reflect that our nursing staff, so as to mediate matters, telephonically contacted the patients’ primary clinician, who in turn advised the patient against his plans to depart from the facility and further requested the patient’s indulgence and patience, so as to wait for the attending physician, who at the time was busy conducting clinic rounds in the wards.

* The mentioned offer was declined and Mr Hendricks thereafter proceeded to discharge himself from the care of the clinicians and the hospital. Our clinical documentation confirmed the spouse of the patient attended to the signing of the release documentation and proceeded to accept the patient’s medication upon departure from the facility.

* In light of the above and after careful consideration of the information supplied in Mr Hendricks’ letter as well as the facts obtained during our internal investigation concluded that Mr Hendricks’ concerns related to the “bedside manner” of the attending clinician. We therefore were unable to judge the clinical approach of the specialist (s)concerned and therefore cannot fault them as it was evident that intermediary measures were put in place and communication was supplied to the patient who proceeded to disregard the advice of his team of medical specialists.

* As a healthcare establishment and supplier of healthcare related services, we do not regulate or have any control in this regard and we therefore advise that any additional considerations or further query relating the incident should be directed at the specialist (s) concerned.

We trust that you find the above in order and thank you for the opportunity to share our viewpoint on the matter by means of this response and assure you of our continued commitment to deliver quality healthcare to all patients.