I’ve been robbed of my wife

Robert van Wyk, Lentegeur

My wife Maureen Van Wyk developed an abscess during the week of her birthday, Saturday July 17, and treated herself with pain tablets and black ointment.

A week later she told me it had burst open and had wanted to go either to a doctor or to Mitchell’s Plain Melomed hospital’s trauma unit. But she was afraid to go to hospital and continued to administer the black ointment until the end of the month.

On Monday August 2 I took her to the emergency unit because the pain was too severe. On arrival a doctor examined her in my presence, said that the wound was infected and that she needed surgery. She was admitted and was asked to do a Covid-19 test. If it was negative then she would be operated on the following day.

Her ward doctor sent her to the gynaecologist, who sent her back to the ward because there was nothing he could do.

On Thursday August 5 I approached the doctor in the ward and asked him when my wife was going for surgery, which had been suggested on August 2.

He told me: “Mr Van Wyk your wife will be fine, she’s on antibiotics”.

While I was visiting on Friday August 6, the doctor asked me to be excused because he wanted to consult with my wife. Afterward, the nursing sister who was with the doctor brought me a prescription and said I must go fetch that medication at the pharmacy.

I was very upset and asked how my wife could be discharged when she seemed to be worse than when she had arrived.

We took my wife to the car in a wheelchair because she was in severe pain and could not walk.

At home, I cried when my 13-year-old son asked me why his mommy could not walk.

On Saturday August 7 I called the doctor but he said my wife would be fine.

On Monday August 9 I called the doctor again and when I told him that her sugar level was at 16, he said it was not high and that if I felt my wife was not well, I should take her back to the trauma unit.

I eventually called the ambulance on Wednesday August 11 as my wife could not endure the pain any longer.

She was readmitted and the trauma doctor said again that my wife “must get urgently to theatre for surgery”.

She was admitted sent to the ward and for the second time send back to the gynaecologist.

On Sunday August 12 I got the attending doctor in the ward while visiting Maureen and I noticed my wife’s stomach was badly swollen. He said “I have asked the surgeon to come and look at your wife after visiting hours”.

On that day I called the hospital every 30 minutes to find out if the surgeon had been to see my wife. Each time I was told no.

I called the hospital again in the evening and spoke to a Mr Mitchell.

He called me back around 9.30pm and said he had spoken to the surgeon who instructed him to keep my wife nil per mouth from midnight.

My wife was eventually operated on Friday August 13.

I visited my wife the next morning and again on Sunday August 15. My wife would be going back into theatre the next day; they were going to flush the wound.

The doctor said he would phone me after the procedure.

I celebrated my birthday on the same day and called the hospital. The sister in charge told me the theatre staff had just taken my wife. That was 1.50pm and she told me I must phone again around 5pm. I called the hospital at 5pm non-stop.

Each time I called they said: “No she’s not back yet.”

The doctor who also promised me that he will call me back never returned my calls.

I eventually called the night shift unit sister in-charge around 7.30pm.

I then asked her how my wife is doing and the sister in charge told me that my wife was on life support. She told me: “They lost your wife in theatre and they resuscitated your wife.”

When I sent the surgeon a WhatsApp message asking how my wife was doing, he said she was fine, unaware that the sister in-charge had already told me that my wife was on life support.

My whole life and that of my 13-year-old son fell apart when I received the call the morning of Tuesday August 17, exactly a month after her birthday.

I just want to know why the doctor or any staff member of Melomed hospital did not call me to say they had lost my wife in surgery. They have robbed me, my son and our entire family of a jewel.

Shameema Adams, Melomed head office group marketing manager, responds.

We are guided by the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act Act, and the National Health Act 2003 makes it an offence to disclose patients’ information to a third party/public forum.

We have reached out to Mr van Wyk to express our deepest condolences to the family and suggested he meets with the medical team and the treating doctors so he can better understand his wife’s condition prior to admission and her medical state and for closure.

However, Mr van Wyk refused and did not want to hear any further medical information on his wife’s situation.

We will therefore provide feedback on the unsubstantiated claims made by Mr van Wyk without disclosing any detailed patient information.

Patient van Wyk was admitted on Monday August 2.

She was immediately provided treatment in the trauma unit and was then admitted into hospital and provided with the necessary treatment which included intravenous antibiotics.

Her medical team consisted of resident physician Dr Emmanuel Danso to do the medical assessment and treatment plan.

The next phase of her treatment was then managed by resident surgeon Dr William Ddamulira.

As per the treating doctors report, she was taken into theatre for surgery on Friday August 13 and then again on Sunday August 15 for the second procedure as part of the treatment plan.

This was to ensure that she was stabilised in between the procedures.

Mrs van Wyk stayed intubated, ventilated and weak but was alive after the procedure.

She later sadly died on Wednesday August 18. She did not pass on in theatre as alleged by Mr van Wyk.

During Mrs Van Wyk’s hospital admission she was provided with optimal medical care even though the patient was in a very serious or critical condition which the husband does not seem to understand or accept.

The patient was extremely ill two months before being seen at hospital. As Mr van Wyk mentioned, they tried treating this very serious condition with self-medication at home, not even opting to visit their general practitioner.

We can reassure the family that the medical team followed all correct clinical protocols to treat the patient and provide the best medical care under very challenging medical conditions suffered by Mrs van Wyk.

In conclusion, we must emphasise that the specialist doctors practice for their own account and by law prohibited from being employed by the hospital.

These specialist doctors are highly qualified and have years of experience, so the decisions made by the specialists are always in the best interest of the patient.