3 832 deaths in Gauteng hospitals were largely avoidable, DA claims

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A total of 3 832 patients died last year in Gauteng public hospitals as a result of 10 741 serious adverse events (SAEs), which largely arise from avoidable medical negligence.

This information was disclosed by Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku in a written reply to DA Gauteng health spokesperson Jack Bloom’s questions in the Gauteng legislature.

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An SAE is defined as an event that results in unintended harm to the patient by an act of commission or omission rather than by the underlying disease or condition of the patient.

According to Bloom, hospitals with the most recorded SAEs were:

– Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital: 1 763;

– Steve Biko Hospital: 893;

– George Mukhari Hospital: 766;

– Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital: 722;

– Helen Joseph Hospital 644;

– Thelle Mogoerane Hospital: 625;

– Tembisa Hospital: 517;

– Sebokeng Hospital: 511;

– Weskoppies Hospital: 504;

– Kopanong Hospital: 415;

– Bertha Gxowa Hospital: 409;

– Tambo Memorial Hospital: 393;

– Rahima Moosa Hospital: 385;

– Kalafong Hospital: 345;

– Leratong Hospital: 323.

“I am most concerned by the 2 307 recorded deaths of newborn babies and 238 maternal deaths,” Bloom said on Wednesday. 

“There were also 866 septic Caesarean sections and 1 148 cases of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy which causes brain damage to children deprived of oxygen.”

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Another indication of poor care, according to Bloom, is the 1 052 cases of hospital-acquired pressure sores which are reported as SAEs “as they have direct impact on the patient’s average length of stay in hospital, increase cost of treatment and may lead to body disfigurement”.

Bloom said despite the high number of SAEs, only 77 cases were referred for disciplinary action.

“These figures are highly disturbing. They highlight severe management problems in public hospitals and lack of consequence for medical mistakes which leads to court cases and huge payouts that drain the health budget.

“This is further evidence of public sector incompetence that would doom the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) which is administratively very complex,” Bloom said. 

Despite several attempts, Gauteng health department spokesperson Kwara Kekana could not be reached for comment on Wednesday morning.

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