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Durban hospital’s R4m claim over post-discharge death

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A Durban hospital is on the hook for a R4m damages claim after an ill patient who was allegedly prematurely discharged – and with “horrendous” bedsores – died two days later, says a Sunday Tribune report. One of the several pressure sores appeared to be about 13cm in diameter, septic and infected and was apparently so deep that the bone was visible.

But, the report says, that’s not all Happy Jabulile Nxumalo, a 52-year-old Kwamashu factory worker, allegedly endured when she placed her health – and life – in the hands of state employees after experiencing weakness in her lower body in June. She was discharged in August, after about two months at King Dinuzulu Hospital Complex (formerly King George V Hospital) into the care of her unemployed daughter, allegedly without the medication that had been prescribed for her ailments because it was a Saturday and the hospital pharmacy was closed.

When her condition took a turn for the worse the following morning, her daughter Mbali Nxumalo called Netcare911 for an ambulance, but the private service provider apparently relayed the call to the province’s EMRS ambulance service, the letter of demand states. EMRS, despite calling Mbali twice to find out whether she was still waiting for help, failed to send an ambulance, the report says the letter states.

MEC for Health, states that staff had acknowledged in an internal report that the bedsores Nxumalo developed while in hospital had been “worsening due to strained resources in the ward”.

Mbali is claiming R3.5m in general damages for severe shock, emotional trauma, psychological pain and suffering and depression, anxiety and distress as well as R550,000 for loss of the family’s breadwinner. Noluthando Nkosi, spokesperson for the KZN Health would not comment on legal matters.

“This appears to be a classic case of extreme government neglect on multiple levels,” Mbali’s lawyer Krisendra Bisetty reportedly told the Sunday Tribune. The letter of demand, which was addressed to the chief executives of both hospitals as well as the KZN MEC for Health, states that staff had acknowledged in an internal report that the bedsores Nxumalo developed while in hospital had been “worsening due to strained resources in the ward”.

Sunday Tribune report

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