Salt to injury: Clinic ‘chases out’ motorbike crash patient
A nurse allegedly ordered the victim not to come back and rather change the wound dressings at home
The City of Cape Town is investigating a complaint by the mother of an 18-year-old daughter who says “a rude nurse” at a clinic in Belhar was negligent when she treated her after a motorcycle accident.
Thaakierah Essack, 18, went to the emergency room of a local clinic, St Vincent Community Health Centre, after the accident left her torso legs badly grazed at the end of February.
Her mother, Faraghnaz Essack, alleged the wounds were not treated as burn wounds by the nurse, and as a result, the dressing made the injuries worse after it got stuck to her skin, causing her flesh to peel off.
According to the complaint, she was also made to wait an hour despite bleeding and in pain, and when she was eventually treated, the nurse refused to look at a wound on her buttock.
She had sustained injuries to the abdomen, buttocks and knees after her motorcycle skidded, resulting in her falling and sustaining injuries. Her mother lodged the complaint with the City of Cape Town, which manages the clinic, alleging the nurse was “rude, unkind, extremely insensitive and negligent” when she carelessly covered the open wounds with wet gauze and a tape.
She said despite the doctor’s orders that Thaakierah’s wounds be dressed at the clinic every day until she heals, the nurse told her there would be no need for that, as her injuries were “not serious enough”.
The nurse also refused to treat the grazing on the teenager’s buttock and ordered her to treat the wounds on her own at home. The nurse later chased the two out of the clinic, telling them not to come back, but to change the dressings at home.
Councillor Zahid Badroodien, MMC for community services and health, confirmed his department received the complaint from Essack and an investigation of the alleged incident was under way.
Essack said the nurse never showed any interest in treating her daughter. When they approached the dressing room, the nurse at first refused to treat the teen and shut the door in her face, yelling: “You must just wait, I am busy!”
“When my daughter said to her, but this is an emergency, as she was bleeding and in pain, the nurse proceeded to tell her in Afrikaans: ‘Please sit over there … there are people in front of you. You must just wait,’ where she then waited almost an hour while bleeding and in pain.
When the nurse finally saw her, she refused to look at the wound on her buttocks, telling her: “Go see to it yourself.”
Essack said the next day, the teen “woke up in extreme pain and a fever, she could not move”.
“When I had tried to remove the dressing, it was all completely stuck to her we could not get it off. I contacted my GP and pharmacist for advice, and both were extremely furious about the manner in which the wounds were seen to, as it was completely incorrect for the kind of injuries she had sustained,” she claimed.
After advice from her doctor, the mother tried to remove the dressings.
“My daughter had to endure her flesh being pulled off with every inch of gauze that was stuck to her. It was so bad she had passed out from the pain! The correct treatment was then given as a burn victim, and the healing is only now starting to take place.
“I am beyond furious with what had been done to my child due to negligent staff at St Vincent clinic,” she said.
Badroodien said a meeting would be arranged with the complainant and the manager of the facility to discuss the concerns and the outcome of the investigation.
Sheynain Benjamin, secretary of Belhar Health Forum, said service delivery had been deteriorating at that clinic since the provincial government stopped co-managing the clinic with the City of Cape Town and left it under the helm of the city in 2015.
She alleged health workers at that clinic were frustrated, as they were mostly trained in child health services – a competency of city clinics.
Benjamin said the clinic was one of the few, if not the only one, that combined child health and adult health care services, such as the management of chronic conditions, under the city’s health department.
“We have been receiving a lot of complaints, especially the ones relating to staff attitudes. It looks likes staff is overworked due to staff shortages and high staff turnover, which we as the forum have been observing. As a result, it looks like staff end up taking their frustrations out on patients. We have raised the issue of negative staff attitudes a number of times to the district management, but somehow it keeps on creeping up,” Benjamin said.
Badroodien denied claims that there were staff shortages at the facility, saying all staff was “adequately trained and experienced”.
“They are fully qualified to provide the healthcare services at the facility,” he said.