In South Africa, we have many rights enshrined in the Constitution. This includes the right to human dignity and medical treatment. Therefore, when we go to a clinic or hospital to get medical treatment, we expect to be treated in a respectful manner. However, this is not always the case, a young female patient from the Eastern Cape tells Health For Mzansi.
Anda Dilaza (23) from Mthatha says she was allegedly mistreated by medical professionals in 2020.
She visited a doctor for the placement of a copper IUD. However, when she checked in at St Mary’s Life Healthcare Hospital, they warned her of potential insensitivity and discomfort which could occur during the procedure.
“Post the insertion, I experienced a lot of pain and I struggled with getting proper attention from the nurses that were on call. I waited for over three hours before I received the requested medication. I could not move properly,” she says.
Sent back to theatre
Dilaza explains that on day two, she experienced bleeding and without being given any explanation, she was sent back to the operating theatre.
“I do not recall signing a theatre application. No explanation was given as to why I was sent to the theatre for a second time. I spent three days in the hospital feeling unsafe and neglected.”
During the second theatre visit, Dilaza says she was assisted by a different practitioner at Saint Mary’s Life Healthcare.
She was discharged but had to be readmitted again when she experienced other problems. Dilaza was hospitalised again on 31 July, a month after going home.
“I was then admitted on a separate occasion for abdominal pain by an oncologist whom I requested to examine me. She confirmed that there was no IUD Device. I’ve been calling the resident gynae [who did the insertion] on his personal cellphone without success and even when I bump into him, he still maintained that he did not remove the device.
“A different doctor confirmed it. She confirmed there was no device at all.”
Panic starts to sink in
On 15 December 2021, Dilaza says she physically contacted the hospital, believing that the device was removed without her consent and knowledge. She requested the hospital to investigate the matter. The two nurses who were in the surgical ward noted her complaint, and told her that they are part of the hospital management staff and that they will get back to her, she says.
“I called on 29 December 2021 later since they did not contact me as promised. The sister who I spoke with on the line insisted that I speak to the doctor and try to ‘fix things’. When I expressed that I specifically wanted the manager, they dropped the call.”
Dilaza explains she received a call from the resident gynae that same day requesting that they should meet for a resolution. She, however, refused to do it without the knowledge and presence of the hospital’s management and ended the call.
According to Dilaza, on 18 January 2022, one of the nurses claiming to be from the hospital management phoned her. When she questioned who she was, the nurse altered her statement on WhatsApp.
She maintains that the situation was not handled properly.
Response from the hospital on the matter
When Health For Mzansi contacted the hospital for comment on the matter, Life Healthcare Group Border-Kei regional manager Mathews Moavodi confirmed that the hospital is aware of Dilaza’s complaint.
“We are aware of the complaint filed by Ms Dilaza, an investigation was conducted, and the hospital manager shared the findings. Upon receiving the investigation findings, Ms Dilaza expressed her dissatisfaction and requested her case be reopened,” Moavodi says.
“On 22 April 2022, the hospital manager emailed to arrange a meeting with Ms Dilaza, but she is yet to respond. Due to the time that has lapsed, no further communication has been sent to Ms Dilaza, and the case was closed on our systems. If Ms Dilaza would like to reopen the matter, we encourage her to contact the hospital manager, who will assist and guide her through the proper channels,” he states.
How to file a medical complaint
Foster Mohale, a spokesperson for South Africa’s National Department of Health, says that all patients in Mzansi have the right to be treated well and with respect.
“Let me emphasise that under no circumstances does a medical practitioner have the right to violate patients.”
Mohale notes that the department of health gets complaints from patients in different places about various mistreatments, and in most cases, they are resolved regionally. The South African health department does not approve of such, he says.
“People must report these incidents. There are managers in every facility, and patients have the right to raise concerns with the management.”
He adds that if a patient is refused access to a health institution, they may file a complaint at the regional level.
He goes on to say that they may lose their licenses, but that this would take time after a thorough investigation.
In instances when these concerns are not being addressed appropriately, he suggests that patients submit their complaints to the Registrar using the following available channels: online services.
Mohale states that the complaint form must be filled out and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, couriered/delivered to 553 Madiba Street, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0001 OR addressed to Pretoria, South Africa, 001 PO Box 205.
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