Reck­less staff should have no place in our hos­pi­tals

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News -

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.

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