Concern over ‘soaring’ baby deaths at Gauteng hospital

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Baby deaths have soared at Dr George Mukhari Hospital, near Ga-Rankuwa north of Pretoria, in the past five years, while the number of babies in the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU) decreased. The Times reports that Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku told Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of Health in Gauteng Jack Bloom that deaths rose from 232 in 2013 to 302 deaths in 2018. The ICU number decreased from 2,239 in 2013 to 1,604 in 2018.

“These premature babies are more prone to complications. They stay longer in the ward and the management is more complex. I am also concerned that 140 babies died of klebsiella last year compared with 48 klebsiella deaths in 2013. This is a three-fold increase,” Bloom said.

Masuku said premature birth was the main reason for the increase in the number of deaths. “The final cause of death in these patients would need a record review to make an accurate final cause of death. Systems are in place to prevent infections and no definite source of infection was identified at the time.”

But Bloom said he was not satisfied with Masuku’s response.

Also, the Public Service Commission (PSC) has ordered Gauteng Health to report the mysterious death of six babies at Thelle Mogoerane Hospital to the Health Ombud, but Masuku claims he has yet to receive such a report. According to a Cape Argus report, Masuku was replying to written questions in the Gauteng provincial legislature asked by Bloom. Bloom asked Masuku what kind of action was taken against the hospital’s medical and nursing staff following the death of the babies – who were less than four months old – between last July and August.

The former Health MEC in Gauteng, Dr GM Ramokgopa, was requested to approach the Health Ombud to investigate the clinical issues, which included the death of neonates, and she agreed. “On conclusion of the maladministration investigation, the report was submitted to MEC B Masuku.”

The Times report

Cape Argus report (subscription needed)

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