06 July 2011

SA hospital shocker

A surgeon can't operate due to a missing drill. A 16-year-old boy dies of suspected meningitis. Suppliers refuse to repair equipment. Can SA hospitals be saved?

No drill, no operation. This was the scene facing a patient at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital recently.

The Gauteng Department of Health issued an official apology to the boy’s mother, who told reporters that doctors at the hospital had misdiagnosed her son four times and left him untreated for three days, before he was diagnosed. There was apparently no bed for the schoolboy in the hospital's intensive care unit for the three days he was in hospital.

  • The hospital’s neurology department went for 3 weeks with only one working CT scanner resulting in the withdrawal of vital services. At one stage in March, things got so bad that the only remaining CT scanner was being used “around the clock”.
  • During the same period, mammography and gastrointestinal screening were cancelled.
  • Equipment suppliers are threatening to remove vital components from equipment unless they are paid.
  • Zeiss refuses to fix broken microscopes, due to non-payment.
  • General Electric, who have an MRI suite in the radiology department, have not been paid.
  • Several hospital theatres have faulty or unusable air conditioning and filtrations units because the manufacturers refuse to replace or repair them until they are paid.
  • Hospital laundries and kitchens are in chaos due to unpaid bills and clumsy administration.


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