What should have been a simple knee replacement operation at Steve Biko Academic hospital in the Moot has turned into a nightmare for a Pretoria resident.
The 72-year-old man apparently contracted a dangerous bacterium at the hospital. Now amputating his leg might be the only way to stop the bacteria from spreading.
Johan Pretorius’ medical woes started almost a year-and-half ago in April 2017 when he had surgery done on his left knee.
After his operation, he was moved to the ICU.
“While we were visiting my husband, a nurse told us there could be a highly contagious bacterium in that specific ICU ward,” his wife, Rina, told Rekord.
“The nurse said a patient who had been diagnosed with the bacteria had been in the ward.”
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At the time the family was worried Pretorius might contract the bacteria, as he had a fresh wound from his recent surgery.
Pretorius’ left leg was swollen and inflamed upon his discharge in May 2017.
A doctor told him his left knee was septic and prescribed some antibiotics.
According to Rina, the antibiotics were prescribed without having any tests done on exactly what type of infection it was or how severe it was.
They would also later discover Pretorius had been prescribed antibiotics that contain penicillin. This despite him being allergic to it, as stated in his medical file.
After several visits to the hospital, he received a letter from them in July 2017, saying he must have another knee replacement surgery done in October.
This second operation was not performed because the infection made it impossible.
It was only then, Rina claimed, tests were done to check exactly what type of bacteria infected Pretorius’ leg.
Tests showed it was the Acinetobacter baumanni bacterium – the bacterium which the nurse allegedly told them about.
“The doctor also said my husband most likely contracted it while in the operating theatre or in the ICU at Steve Biko Academic hospital,” said Pretorius.
In January, scans done at the nuclear medicine department at the hospital showed the bacteria was still present and severe.
Pretorius was readmitted in March of this year to have fluid drawn from the knee.
Tests showed a presence of bacteria.
Pretorius was once again prescribed the same antibiotics he was allergic to.
He was scheduled for yet another knee replacement operation in 26 April of this year. It was, however, cancelled.
“We have suffered financial loss and emotional trauma due to the negligence of Steve Biko Academic hospital,” said Rina.
“My husband now suffers from constant nosebleeds, breathing difficulties, severe skin rashes and sores. ”
She said the infection smelled “rotten” and “bad”.
“The stench is unbearable.”
The hospital told Rekord it was unaware of the presence of the Acinetobacter baumanni bacteria at the institution.
“We had not received other complaints regarding this,” said hospital CEO Dr Mathabo Mathebula.
Mathebula said all patients, including Pretorius, were informed about any complications with total joint replacements.
“There are also treatment protocols for post-operative infections in place. In this case, clinical investigations according to their guideline for joint infections have been followed.”
According to experts, the Acinetobacter baumanni bacteria is an emerging multidrug-resistant pathogen.
“Every hospital in the country has reported the bauman bacterium, including Steve Biko Academic Hospital,” said professor Olga Perovic, a principal pathologist at the national institute of communicable diseases.
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