A while ago (2 May 2009) I read an article published on Vukani community newspaper (in Cape Town). It had a story on one of health system’s failures; however I still can’t get over the poor women’s bad experience with the Govt. hospital she went to for assistance and her irreplaceable loss.
The story goes like this, a 21 year old women (Nomampondo Booi) from Khayelitsha (Cape Town), has opened a case against the nurse she accuses of being the cause of her baby’s death.
From the story it emerges that Nomampondo went to Nolungile Day Hospital in Site B seeking assistance with the delivery of her baby. She “…needed a toilet and I asked” (the nurse) who’s response was somehow rhetorical asking Nomampondo if whether she couldn’t see where the toilet was. She proceeded to the toilet where she delivered the baby into the bowl. “After I realised that I gave birth I screamed for help. She (the nurse) came and told me to pick up my ‘thing’, clapping and beating me. I had to pick up the child on my own, still attached to me. I was pale with the beating I got from her”.
Nomampondo’s concerned aunt upon hearing the news visited the hospital to enquire about what transpired. Instead of getting answers securities and police were called on her however she stood her ground demanding answers despite the (anger) treatment she got from the nurses, she was eventually told that the child had a problem with her lungs which led to the death, “but they never alluded to the fact that the child was born in the toilet bowl and that could have been a major problem” (writes the reporter).
Nomampondo’s aunt believes that the baby could have died because of a head butt, “the child had a purple mark on the forehead that shows she might have been hurt by the seat,” said the furious aunt. The aunt requested an autopsy and she was promised the results on 13th May. “When I got to the hospital on that day, there were no results. They instead told us that the file was lost. There were also suggestions that they will test placentas, but I was told it was destroyed. It was clear they were hiding something,”…I had to cause chaos to get somebody to listen to me. A certain doctor by the name of Ishmael was the one who eventually listened to me. He tried to convince me that according to the file he had, the chances of the baby’s survival were very slim” said Nomampondo’s aunt. When the doctor was asked if he was aware that the baby was delivered in the toilet, he said he was not and shocked at this revelation. It was at this point that he tried to pay attention. The patient’s file was not even signed by the nurse. The site B police station confirmed that the police were investigating both parties, however the case will be sent to court for the prosecutor to decide. Attempts by the newspaper to get comments from the Department of Health draw a blank as usual.
I believe there’s a very strong rule that governs nurses’ practice or rather that they are expected to enforce and this rule is always (well mostly) on their examination paper. The rule states that not under any circumstance should a women who’s about to deliver be allowed to go to the toilet, whether they want to piss or crap rather they do it on the bed. I believe this rule was enforced and emphasised clearly to avoid situations such as those experienced by people like Nomampondo Booi. I am no medical expert I just read (when I’m bored or don’t have anything to do) it’s times like these that such knowledge come in handy, lets hope the justice will prevail fro this women. If I were her I would lodge another complaint with South African Nursing Council too.