Lack of staff cited in ‘body in toilet’ saga
NURSES not showing up for duty, and also the shortage of nurses, have been cited as among the reasons a man‘s body was found only five days after his death at the Port Alfred Hospital in December.
The lengthy internal investigation, which started five months ago after the badly decomposed body of Mhlangenqaba Zono, 46, was found in the hospital‘s staff bathroom, was returned from the office of the district manager after being completed on January 22.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said the investigation had been conducted to discover why Zono‘s body was not found until five days after his death.
“Two recommendations have come from the final report, the one being that some of the nurses be investigated as individuals because it was found some of them meant to be on duty were not. “
The hospital also needs to formulate a policy when it comes to dealing with patients who want to leave the premises before they are examined. Nurses said this patient had tried to leave and when they could not find him they thought he had left,” said Kupelo.
He said there would be further individual investigations for each nurse who was not on duty when and where she was supposed to be. He said if the investigation found someone was responsible then the necessary disciplinary measures would be taken.
Kupelo said nurses were not trained or informed on how to handle “difficult or depressed” patients. Zono, who was being treated for asthma and breathing problems, had apparently insisted on leaving the premises before he was examined and the nurses had not been sure what to do.
“We definitely have a shortage of nurses and the nurses we do have are overworked to the point of exhaustion. They are not designed to look after people who are trying to run away.”
Kupelo said the lack of cleanliness would also addressed. “A register should be at each bathroom and a cleaning supervisor is meant to check the bathrooms have been cleaned. This was found to be poorly managed.”
Kupelo said there was a definite lack of communication, and of managerial duties and responsibilities. There would be improved training for people in managerial positions and there would also be counselling for the nurses who found the body.
“These are to be addressed because it is unacceptable that a body can be on the premises for five days and no one realises it. It definitely raises the question of cleanliness.” Ya think?
However, Kupelo said the report did not suggest any negligence. He said it was clear from the report the nurses accountable should be investigated and there should be increased training for managerial and cleaning staff. Zono, who is believed to have died from natural causes and probably suffered cardiac arrest following an asthma attack, was found in a locked bathroom at the hospital at least four days after his death in December.
Staff had initially told Zono‘s family that he had escaped from the hospital but then called a few days later to say his body had been found. The family said they were devastated because they could not give him a proper burial service due to the state of decomposition.
Nokwanda Futhuse, Zono‘s sister, said she still blamed the hospital‘s staff for her brother‘s death but had decided not to take the case further.
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