News / South Africa / Health

Zandi Sithole
3 minute read
4 Feb 2019
10:36 am

Elderly man allegedly neglected at Tembisa Hospital before he died

Zandi Sithole

The hospital has denied any wrongdoing, adding that the man's maggot-infested wound was not cared for before being admitted.

The late Alain Lefebure's clothes were handed over to his neighbour with 'lekgowa', which means 'white person' in Sesotho, written on a note.

A good Samaritan from Kempton Park West, who tried to help his elderly, injured neighbour, was shocked at the condition he found him in at Tembisa Hospital, just days before his death, he told Kempton Express.

Past Lazarus Mhlaba said he found 74-year-old Alain Lefebure in hospital the day after being admitted, with blood on his clothes and bed, and a gaping wound on his leg that was still maggot-infested. Written in Lefebure’s file were only his name and surname, with no information on his condition.

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Nothando Mdluli, spokesperson for Tembisa Hospital, denied that Lefebure did not receive proper treatment.

“Immediately on arrival to the ward at 12.05am, the wound was dressed. He was cleaned within 24 hours. Further information cannot be disclosed due to confidentiality,” she said.

Mhlaba said Lefebure was injured when a precast wall fell onto his leg while doing construction work at his home in early December last year.

“I saw an ambulance at his house on January 11 and went to check. He had a big wound on his leg.”

Mhlaba gave ambulance personnel some of his own clothes so Lefebure could change once admitted to hospital. He also gave them Lefebure’s ID, driver’s licence, three bank cards, and car keys.

Mhlaba claimed the next day when he arrived at the hospital, Lefebure’s wound was still wide open. It looked like it had not been taken care of since the day before. There was blood on his clothes and on his bed, with maggots in his wound.

“I asked the nurses why they didn’t fill in his form properly, because he had his ID and driver’s licence with him. The nurses said they did not receive his belongings,” said Mhlaba.

“I followed up with the ambulance service, and they showed me one of the nurses had signed off the release papers and took his belongings.”

Mdluli said Lefebure was admitted to hospital with the maggots already in his wound, which could mean the wound was neglected at home.

“The patient was brought to us late and was alone. We wish his friends, especially Past Mhlaba, could have assisted this patient from home,” Mdluli added.

“Furthermore, it is possible there were maggots in the wound, even after cleaning the wound. It could be that maggot eggs, which had not hatched yet, remained underneath deep muscle tissue and surfaced later. It is not possible to clear all maggots in the initial stages.

“Unfortunately, by the time the patient arrived, his wound was quite critical,” said Mdluli. Lefebure died on January 13.

“His personal documents had still not been found at the time of his death. Nurses gave me a bag with the clothes he was w  earing when admitted,” said Mhlaba.

Mdluli said the documents were found in the casualty toilets on January 17 under “unusual circumstances”. Cleaners handed it over to security.

“We fail to understand how the patient could not have known his bag was missing. The doctor’s assessment made no record of any confusion. This means the patient was alert. Had anything went missing, the patient should have been aware of it, especially when his ID was needed for admission purposes,” said Mdluli.

The bag with Lefebure’s clothes in, which was handed over to Mhlaba after his neighbour’s death, had a note attached which read “lekgowa”, which translats to “‘white person” in Sesotho.

“Perhaps our nurses wrote ‘legkowa’ as a form of identifying the patient’s clothes. We find no racial intentions with regard to this,” said Mdluli.

“It was merely for description purposes. But nonetheless, it is our mistake and we apologise for this. We have engaged with our nursing department not to label kits or use words like this as they may be found offensive by other people.”

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