Gauteng Health sued over medicine overdose patient ‘left to die’

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Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa is facing a R9.4m damages claim following the death of a Clubview man who had allegedly overdosed on medication. A Pretoria News report says central to the claim is a comment by a senior official who apparently told the staff that “he is a drug addict” and that “those people do not value life”. It is claimed that the man was simply left in the corner without being attended to.

According to papers before the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), Chris Dekker struggled to breath when he was admitted to Kalafong Hospital. But because it was believed that he had overdosed on medication, the staff was allegedly told to “place him in a corner where he cannot bother anyone”. A doctor who does not want to be identified apparently overheard the official of the hospital telling the nurses that “if he should live, that is great and if he dies, that would be unfortunate”.

The report says Dekker unfortunately died, and his wife Martha Dekker is blaming it on the negligence of the hospital.

Dekker showed the doctor the medication her husband had taken. The doctor said he had to be placed in an intensive care unit as soon as possible for observation, but this never happened. He remained in a general ward. His wife left his side the next day to fetch clothes and food at home. When she returned a few hours later, she found her husband dead in his bed. It is said that an autopsy done by the hospital showed that he had died of an overdose of prescription medication. But, the report says, the family claimed the hospital refused to do a “proper autopsy”.

Dekker’s lawyer said in a letter that she was told that the police were investigating a culpable homicide case against the hospital. The widow meanwhile stated that as a result of the hospital staff’s negligence who provided “almost no care” to her husband and treated him “as a lessor patient based on discrimination” which led to his death, they owe her damages.

The report says her claim included R8m for loss of support and R1m for the “contravention of rights protected in the Constitution”. The woman stated that her husband, like any other person, deserved to be treated with dignity and had the right to healthcare.

The report says the provincial department is set to defend the claim.

Pretoria News report

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