Cancer patient neglected

The Steve Biko academic hospital has been accused of neglecting a terminal patient.

A Pretoria state hospital has been accused of neglecting a terminal patient.

The claims were made this week by a Pretoria family who spoke of “a terrible encounter” at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in the Moot.

“We feel angry and dispirited,” family spokesperson Charlene Theron.

She said the hospital would be the reason for her brother’s death.

Theron’s brother, Johan van der Merwe (64), moved for health reasons from Durban to Pretoria in February.

“My brother got very sick and came to live with my mother. He had a lump in his throat and leg,” she said.

“He saw a general practitioner here in Pretoria, who referred him to the Steve Biko hospital because he had no medical aid.”

At the hospital, he was diagnosed with gland cancer.

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Theron said her brother’s condition had worsened markedly since because the hospital had failed to start the proper treatment.

“They schedule appointments with him every week, but they just draw blood or do x-rays. Once they made him wait for a month before they saw him again,” she said.

“Now, the cancer has spread to his liver. The cancer are spreading at a very fast pace. This could have been prevented if he was treated sooner.”

“Surely, they should have started chemo already?”

Theron said she did not think her brother would survive two weeks.

She also claimed her brother got sick after spending a night at the hospital.

“Two weeks ago, my brother was admitted at the hospital. When he returned home the following day, he was itching from bugs that was in his bedding,” said Theron.

“I feel we had to take the issue further. Otherwise, who would?

“I believe that animals are treated better in the veterinary hospital than people are treated at state hospitals.”

Another family, who wanted to remain anonymous was also angry after visiting the hospital.

“My mother received surgery earlier this year. When she woke up in the ward she discovered her wound was left open due to a shortage of tissue,” the resident said.

“To top it off, the air conditioning was not working. Surely air cons in a hospital must always be on to keep away germs?”

At the time of going to print, the hospital had not responded to a request for comment.

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According to the hospital’s website, only priority one and two patients will be seen at the hospital.

“These are patients in need of emergency specialist medical care, for example, life-threatening within two hours, which cannot be rendered at the regional- or district hospital, the clinic or the medical practitioner,” the website said.

In a previous article, the department of health said patients who came to the emergency unit were prioritised according to the severity of their condition.

“Life-threatening cases are dealt with immediately whereas non-life threatening cases wait a little longer, depending on patient load at any given time.”

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Kayla van Petegem

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