Hospital accused of negligence

Mluleki Andries, father of Sikuye, shows Vukani the case number he has opened at the Department of Health.

Parents of a 10-month-old KTC baby boy have accused Gugulethu Day Hospital of negligence after a doctor failed to diagnose a break in the child’s arm, but the health department says the doctor did nothing wrong.

The angry parents of Sikuye Mgumane told Vukani that they took their child to the facility on Saturday February 11, after he had fallen off the bed the previous night and hurt his arm. When they noticed him struggling to crawl, they were concerned about the state of his arm and decided to take him to the day hospital.

His mother, Nozipho Mgu
mane, said she suspected his arm might be broken, but was shocked when doctors told them they did not have an X-ray machine. Her child was given painkillers and she was advised to return after two days if Sikuye’s condition didn’t improve.

But the following day (Sunday), Sikuye’s arm became swollen and the child cried hysterically. So, on Monday February 13, Ms Mgumane went to the clinic first thing in the morning, in the hope of having her child attended to immediately.

But she only got to see the doctor at 2pm and was referred to Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital – where it was confirmed that the child’s arm was indeed broken.

“We waited for hours for an ambulance to transport us to Red Cross. We are upset that the child was not X-rayed (on Saturday) even though we told the nurses that my son might have broken his arm,” she said.

Sikuye’s angry father Mluleki Andries said he decided to lodge a complaint with the department on Tuesday February 14 because he felt staff at the clinic should be held accountable for their actions – and in spite of a facility manager’s assurance that an internal investigation would be conducted.

“The department told me that it will take three weeks to conduct an investigation,” he said.

Health Department spokesperson Monique Johnstone, however said the day hospital had a 24 hour X-ray facility and that Sikuye had been seen within an hour of being triaged on Saturday February 11. She added that it had been the doctor’s professional opinion that the child’s arm did not need to be X-rayed.

“The doctor examined the child, and according to the doctor’s clinical judgement an X-ray was not necessary. There was no swelling, no tenderness on palpation and the child was using his arm normally,” she said.

“The child was seen by the doctor on Monday after they returned to the clinic within the required time frame, and then referred for X-ray as the pain had not improved, and as was recommended by the initial doctor. At 3.05pm the child was referred to Red Cross Children’s Hospital for further care,” she said.

Sikuye is currently recovering at home and his arm is in a cast.