Reckless staff should have no place in our hospitals
ON July 22, Andile Galaweni was born normal at Gwanda Provincial Hospital but in the 34 days she has lived, she has already suffered intense physical pain many adults have never endured in their longer lives. The pain she is suffering is not because of her fault or her parents’, but that of some heartless charlatans masquerading as nurses. She will grow up without her right arm that had to be amputated on Tuesday after criminally negligent staff at the hospital blundered resulting in the hand swelling and developing gangrene.
On July 29, a week after Miss Patience Chikahamadze delivered Andile, she went with her to hospital for routine observation. Nurses decided they had to perform a procedure that needed them to inject some fluid into her body. In their attempt to insert a cannula, they pricked the baby multiple times on her arm as they struggled to locate a vein. They later got it and fixed the drip, but the fluid soon stopped flowing when the arm got swollen.
Miss Chikahamadze tried to inform the nurses that something wasn’t right, but the staff sneered at her saying they were the professionals who knew better. As the girl cried in pain and her mother grieved in silence, the nurses were busying themselves on their mobile phones.
Andile’s life-changing ordeal had started. Blood stopped flowing to the arm thus it started decomposing. She was referred to United Bulawayo Hospitals and a decision was made that the body part had to be removed. The amputation was conducted successfully on Tuesday.
Andile’s father, Mr Thabani Galaweni, as we quote him elsewhere in this issue saying, is bitter.
“We are so much devastated by the fact that due to the hospital staff ’s negligence, Baby Andile has had to face amputation. I have to simply accept what has happened though and thank God for the success of the operation but frankly, I’m very hurt. For what transpired to result in my child being amputated, we have since engaged lawyers and will definitely sue the hospital for the protection of other patients.”
His wife, Miss Chikahamadze is equally angry but is happy the amputation was successful. The situation could have been trickier seeing that this was a major operation that was performed on such a young baby.
“We’re thankful to the Lord that the operation was a success. We were worried if our month-old would make it through the operation session but through the Lord, she made it although she’s still in the intensive care unit,” she said.
It is sad that Andile is now basically disabled so early in her life because of nurses who don’t know what they are doing. We demand that they be punished severely for the criminal negligence that has caused so much pain on an innocent child, her parents, relatives and every person who has a heart and mind. The punishment must begin with their practising certificates being cancelled and them being fired from the jobs they don’t deserve. The nurses must be blacklisted as well.
Thereafter, we implore Mr Galaweni and his wife to press for damages from the hospital, yes but also from the persons whose negligence caused the tragic loss of Andile’s arm. But before then, as Matabeleland South provincial medical director Dr Brian Maponga says, formal investigations should be carried out. The findings, expected by next week, should be made public and the blundering nurses named and shamed.
We argue that given the circumstances as narrated by Miss Chikahamadze, the nurses are guilty as charged.
As we castigate the Gwanda nurses for Andile’s grief, we are mindful that virtually anyone who has sought medical attention at most public hospitals and clinics, or has visited a sick relative there have had experiences of a similar nature. If the truth be told, the quality of service at our hospitals and clinics is pathetic. Many patients are enduring suffering that is very unnecessary and avoidable at these places because of reckless staff. In addition, there are many deaths that are happening at public hospitals and clinics that would never have occurred if staff knew what they were doing, or if they respected themselves and their patients.
There are equally horrific incidents that have been reported in these pages of nurses tossing patients out of their beds or going to sleep when they must be doing the rounds in the wards keeping patients under constant observation. We unreservedly condemn such dastard, uncivilised and sinful behaviour.
We call upon the Government, through various instruments available to it, to enhance monitoring of nurses, doctors and other health staff. This can involve setting up structures within the facilities and undertaking surprise or incognito visits to clinics and hospital. But a sense of humanity must return to health institutions nurses and doctors always remembering on their own, that their jobs entail saving lives and alleviating pain.
We say service delivery has generally fallen and staff have become more removed from their patients emotionally, but we would be as reckless as the Gwanda Provincial Hospital nurses if we don’t acknowledge that there are some devoted health staff out there, whose good work is unfortunately being overshadowed by bad apples.