Of­fi­cials raid doc­tor’s surgery

Post - - Front Page - CHANELLE LUTCHMAN

THE DIS­COV­ERY of med­i­cal waste – in­clud­ing used syringes, HIV tests, cot­ton swabs and ban­dages – on va­cant land in Isipingo has landed a lo­cal doc­tor and his staff in hot wa­ter.

Of­fi­cials from the eThek­wini Mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s en­vi­ron­men­tal health depart­ment went to his surgery on Mon­day, de­mand­ing answers. They are con­tem­plat­ing fin­ing him.

Mu­nic­i­pal clean­ers spot­ted the med­i­cal waste on Fri­day and no­ti­fied the city’s health depart­ment. The doc­tor, whose iden­tity is known to POST, was present dur­ing the raid and ap­peared flab­ber­gasted when of­fi­cials ques­tioned him.

Con­fused pa­tients looked on as the doc­tor told them that two of his bins were re­cently stolen and he as­sumed the thieves had thrown the con­tents on the va­cant plot.

“Things are al­ways go­ing miss­ing. I can’t even be­gin to tell you how much of my stuff has been taken – my bins, my com­post waste boxes and even my wel­come carpet with my name on it has been taken from the re­cep­tion area,” he said.

Dur­ing the in­spec­tion, of­fi­cials also found used med­i­cal waste stored in an area at the en­trance of his surgery. In terms of the Med­i­cal Health Care Act, med­i­cal waste must be stored in a des­ig­nated area and can­not be left where it can be ex­posed to any­one. It must be locked at all times.

The per­son al­lowed in the area must wear pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, in­clud­ing a mask and gloves. The doc­tor, who said his nurses were un­aware of the proper pro­ce­dure to fol­low, told of­fi­cials he would now en­sure strict pro­to­col was fol­lowed.

“I haven’t fol­lowed up on my staff. I am busy with pa­tients all the time, but I have been alerted to some­thing that has gone se­ri­ously wrong. Clearly there has been an in­ter­nal fail­ure,” he said.

The of­fi­cials also re­quested to see the con­tract be­tween the GP and the com­pany that dis­poses of his waste.

The ser­vice provider was con­tacted and con­firmed it had re­cently picked up eight boxes of med­i­cal waste, while two were left be­hind.

The doc­tor can­not ex­plain why two boxes were left be­hind.

He has also been re­quested to store waste in the proper waste bas­kets to avoid con­tam­i­na­tion of the ma­te­rial.

Peter Roberts, who led Mon­day’s raid, told POST the city was send­ing a strong mes­sage to other med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers.

“There is some­thing called a sched­uled trade per­mit. In the per­mit, med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers are urged to store their waste sep­a­rately in spe­cial colour-coded boxes and to keep the med­i­cal waste locked away.

“He (the doc­tor) has not com­plied with the lock­ing away of this ma­te­rial. And we are now clamp­ing down on oth­ers who are not com­ply­ing. We will is­sue fines or re­move per­mits if they are not run­ning up to standard,” Roberts said.

A POST team also saw empty medicine bot­tles and empty blis­ter packs, all bear­ing the name of the doc­tor, on the va­cant land near his surgery.

The doc­tor told POST he had been “ed­u­cated” on the stor­ing of med­i­cal waste and was now com­ply­ing.

“There is strict pro­to­col here, but some­where a staff mem­ber has failed to com­ply… but I have been no­ti­fied and I am work­ing on ex­plain­ing to them (staff) how to prop­erly dis­pose of this. It was a mi­nor thing and we are 99.99999% on track,” the doc­tor said.

Un­safe man­age­ment of haz­ardous health care waste, particularly its dis­posal, may in­crease the risk of needle stick in­juries, trans­mis­sion of in­fec­tious agents and ex­pose un­sus­pect­ing par­ties to pre­ventable risks.

Mean­while, raids con­tin­ued in Isipingo yes­ter­day.

Of­fi­cials from sev­eral city de­part­ments were out in full force also, look­ing for il­le­gal traders.

A com­pany man­u­fac­tur­ing dog ken­nels was is­sued with a no­tice for struc­tural fail­ure as well as a R5 000 fine from Metro Po­lice for il­le­gal dump­ing.

Said City Man­ager Sipho Nzuza: “We need to show these il­le­gal traders that we are here and not leav­ing. We have a big­ger plan for this area and we can only ex­e­cute it when these traders get le­gal or stop.

“I am very happy about the op­er­a­tions that are car­ried out here and it shows we can bring Isipingo back to what it was.”

The head of the city’s de­vel­op­ment, plan­ning, man­age­ment and en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment, Musa Mb­hele, is­sued a stern warn­ing to med­i­cal prac­ti­tion­ers and il­le­gal traders.

“We are com­ing for them. If they do not com­ply, we will close their busi­nesses down. This doc­tor that was caught on Mon­day will be brought to the law, but we are also go­ing after the oth­ers who are do­ing this.

“We are go­ing after those il­le­gally of­fload­ing things, il­le­gal traders and those who are mak­ing il­le­gal taxi ranks,” he said.

“We will de­scend on them like a ton of bricks.”

PIC­TURE: SIBUSISO NDLOVU

Med­i­cal waste found on va­cant land near a doc­tor’s Isipingo surgery.

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