DA’s Bloom pans many deaths, poor care in Gauteng hospitals

Bloom was most concerned about the 2,307 recorded deaths of newborn babies and 238 maternal deaths.

The Gauteng department of health reported a total of 3,832 patients who died last year in hospitals between April 2018 and March 2019 as a result of serious adverse events (SAEs), which largely arose from avoidable medical negligence.

Last month The Citizen reported the department had paid more than R237 million to settle medical negligence claims at various health institutions since April.

This was revealed by Gauteng health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku in response to questions by Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow health MEC Jack Bloom, who was concerned by the indication of poor care in public hospitals.

“Another indication of poor care is the 1,052 cases of hospital-acquired pressure sores which are reported as SAEs, as they have a direct impact on the patient’s average length of stay in the hospital, increase cost of treatment and may lead to body disfigurement,” Bloom said.

The department’s spokesperson Kwara Kekana argued that SAE’s cases were not a result of medical negligence and hospitals were taking serious responsibility in investigating such cases.

“Serious adverse cases identified are reported within 24 hours, investigated immediately and then presented to the facility patient safety incident committee. The case is then presented for clinical review depending on the severity of each case. This is done to identify gaps in patient care and develop a quality improvement plan,” Kekana said.

Bloom was concerned that these might be a result of management problems and said only 77 cases were referred for disciplinary action.

“These figures are highly disturbing. They highlight severe management problems in public hospitals and lack of consequence for medical mistakes which leads to court cases and huge payouts that drain the health budget,” Bloom said.

The cases ranged from maternal deaths, neonatal deaths, wrong operation site, wrong amputation, operation without consent, falls and post-dental procedure complications.

Bloom was most concerned about the deaths of many newborn babies.

“I am most concerned by the 2,307 recorded deaths of newborn babies and 238 maternal deaths. There were also 866 Septic Caesarean Sections and 1,148 cases of Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy which causes brain damage to children deprived of oxygen,” Bloom said.

According to Bloom, hospitals with the most recorded SAEs included Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Steve Biko Hospital, George Mukhari Hospital and Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

Read more on these topics

Bandile Masuku gauteng health Jack Bloom