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Sebokeng hospital facing major legal action after alleged medical malpractice

A Pretoria reservations clerk was forced to lie in her own blood for almost 6 hours while giving unassisted birth while nurses in the ward ignored her impassioned pleas for help.

Bridget Moleboheng was admitted to the Sebokeng hospital in the Vaal Triangle during December 2010 and from the outset she was treated with indifference and disrespect. Her water had broken and she was in urgent need of medical assistance.

“Because I had the temerity to ask that I be attended to I was called “Madam” and everybody went out of their way to be rude to me,” Moleboheng said.

Moleboheng, who works for a Pretoria-based Hotel is in the process of suing the hospital and the government for substantial damages sustained during her stay at the hospital.

Her real nightmare started when she started giving birth: “Instead of helping me and telling me what to do, the nurses stood around chatting to each other about their personal lives ignoring my pleas for help.”

When the baby started moving down the birth canal, she screamed for help and still her cries for help were being ignored.

“The nurses kept screaming at me that I should keep quiet. At this point the baby was being born and still I was being ignored,” she said.

“While I was in agony and scared to push on my own, the nurses left the ward then went to sit at the corridor and continued chatting & laughing. They made it clear that I was going to be ignored because I had dared to ask questions and that I had behaved like a ‘madam’”

Sunelle van Heerden a professional consultant from CP van Zyl Attorneys said what had happened to Moleboheng was an everyday occurrence at certain state hospitals and the only way they would change was through legal means.

“It is clear that government lacks the will to change the horrendous conditions in state hospitals and ultimately it is left to the public to seek legal advice in order to bring them to book.”

Moleboheng eventually gave completely unassisted birth to a baby boy after many hours of labour.

“I pleaded with the nurses in the ward to help my baby who was at this point was turning purple. I asked them to help my baby even if they did not want to help me,” Moleboheng said.

“I had spoken to my husband on my cell phone to tell him of my desperate plight but he was refused permission by the security guards at the hospital to enter. I had not eaten for many hours prior to giving birth and after being refused food by the nurses, I asked him to bring me food which they initially refused. Only later after repeated pleas by him was he allowed to give some food to a security guard who brought it to me,” she said.

When the baby was born – without any assistance from the nurses or the midwife – she was refused permission to either hold him or breastfeed him even though he was crying.

“Despite the fact that there was non-medical staff including males walking through the ward, I was left lying naked in my own blood and the doctor that was supposed to attend to me was seeing other patients who were admitted before me.”

Removing her afterbirth was also performed with the utmost callousness with a doctor blaming the pain he was causing her on the fact that she was “fat”.

“He ignored my screams that he was hurting me and treated me worse than a dog,”   she said.

She eventually used her feet to stem the bleeding and passed out several times before she was attended to and given a blood transfusion.

“I bled until the blood came all the way to my breast and almost to my neck,” she said.

After eventually having the afterbirth removed in an operating room, she was allowed to go home permanently scarred by the horrific experience.

It was recently reported that the Gauteng health department currently faces 101 legal claims totalling R235million, which reflect a horrific decline in treatment standards at our hospitals.

These claims are due to alleged negligence at various public hospitals that resulted in the death of patients, among other things.

Soweto’s Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere, tops the list with 26 claims worth R22,8million.

Seventeen of these claims are due to alleged negligence leading to brain damage and cerebral palsy in new-born babies.

The department revealed these startling statistics in its 2010-2011 financial report to the public accounts committee in the legislature.

The highest claim at Chris Hani-Baragwanath is R5million for damages following the “death of a patient after treatment of a toothache and abscess in the gum”.

The second highest number of claims is against Pretoria’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital with 12 claims totalling R16million, including a R4million claim for allegedly stopping life support without consent of next- of-kin, and another R2million after a “wrong eye was operated on, resulting in blindness”.

DA’s health spokesperson Jack Bloom said: “These claims reflect a horrific decline in treatment standards at our hospitals. Although some amounts claimed are clearly unrealistic, they reflect the trauma of patients who feel they have been victims of bad treatment.”


For more information, please contact Sunelle van Heerden at CP van Zyl attorneys on 012 460 7050

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