Gauteng hospital investigating broken needle in upper arm incident

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The Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg‚ east of Johannesburg‚ is trying to establish how a broken needle was found lodged in the upper arm of a patient a week after she was discharged. The Times reports that Jagleen Hermanus‚ 33‚ says that she walked around with excruciating pain for a week after being discharged until she returned to the facility and insisted they take an X-ray.

Hermanus was admitted in April for kidney stone treatment and spoke out about her ordeal‚ as an investigation into how a needle tip became embedded in her arm continues. According to report, the Gauteng Health Department‚ on behalf of the Tambo Memorial Hospital’s CEO Dr Avis Naidoo‚ said they were investigating the incident. “The hospital instituted an investigation into the incident. We can confirm that the needle tip was found in the patient’s arm and she was referred to a surgeon for further management‚” Naidoo said.

“The patient’s safety is our key priority. The matter surrounding the incident will be fully investigated and necessary disciplinary procedures will be instituted should any wrongdoing be found on the part of health professionals‚” he added.

Hermanus said she was initially told by a matron at the hospital‚ when she returned complaining about pain‚ that it was probably an infection. “She told me it’s nothing but an infection but I told her that I needed an X-ray. I went for an X-ray and the needle was found‚” said Hermanus.

“I asked for answers on how this could have happened‚ but none were given. A surgeon was called to remove the needle from my arm. I asked him to put the needle in a container for me. The doctor failed to explain to me how it could have happened and referred me to the office of the CEO.”

Hermanus said the hospital‚ at least initially‚ failed to take accountability for the pain and suffering she had endured.

The report says she was asked to show the needle – which she had taken home as evidence – at a meeting with hospital management on 21 May. She said the hospital wanted to check if the broken needle was the same as needles she used to take insulin.
Hermanus said she was shocked when on two occasions‚ police officers came to her house‚ looking for the needle tip but she refused to let them take it without a search warrant.

She said that the hospital had then lost a file containing her medical records. She alleged that because of this‚ she had not been able to get diabetes treatment there. “My lawyer has written to them to give me treatment but nothing has happened‚” she said.

The report says in emails seen dating back to May‚ the hospital said it was looking into the matter with urgency. Naidoo confirmed that her (Hermanus’) file had disappeared from the facility. “The investigation surrounding the missing file is also underway. The hospital is reinforcing the adherence of standard operating procedures to health professionals when administering injections to patients‚” he said.

Asked if the hospital had called for the intervention of the police‚ Naidoo said the hospital was “not aware of any involvement of the police”. “There were no reasons to open a SAPS docket‚” he said‚ adding that Hermanus was free to attend the hospital for further treatment.

The Times report

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