Government hospitals are being sued more than any public institution in the Ministry of Health because of alleged medical negligence ÔÇô Minister of Health, Sheila Tlou, told Parliament this week.
Although the minister did not disclose details, an investigation by The Sunday Standard on Princess Marina Hospital earlier this year revealed that a number of patients die at the hospital either because there are no doctors to attend to them or unqualified doctors operate them on.
In one case, patient PA 573918, whose name is known to The Sunday Standard, was referred to Princess Marina Hospital from Ghantsi. She was in a critical condition and died three days later because there was no doctor to attend to her.
In an apparent attempt to cover up the hospital negligence, the in house doctor who performed the autopsy reported that the child died from pancreatitis, suggesting that the hospital was not to blame.
The child’s parents, however, initiated legal proceedings against the hospital and subsequent proceedings revealed that the initial post mortem report was doctored.
The correct postmortem report showed that the child died from a rapture of the intestines, which were left to become septic, suggesting that her life could have been saved if she had been attended to on time.
In another case, patient no PM 134046, whose name is also known to The Sunday Standard, was admitted to the hospital with head injuries. His “In patient” card lists the operation performed on his as Extra-Dural Haemamotoma, an operation that should be performed by a neurosurgeon.
Investigations by The Sunday Standard then revealed that the hospital had been operating without a neurosurgeon for close to a year and a number of cases that needed specialist attention were passed to lesser-qualified doctors.
Further investigations revealed that the doctor who performed the operation on patient PM 134046 is registered with the Botswana Health Professions Council as a medical doctor and not a neurosurgeon.
The operation failed and five days later the hospital brought in a private neurosurgeon, Dr Danev from Gaborone Private Hospital, to perform a second corrective operation. The patient, however, died a few days later because specialist help came too late.
A group of Princess Marina Hospital doctors recently wrote to the Ministry of Health and the Botswana Health Professions Council complaining that patients who are referred to specialist doctors at Princess Marina Hospital end up being attended to by ordinary doctors.
The letter stated: “The clinical at Princes Marina Hospital are specialist clinics and there is no sense in junior medical officers running them as they have been referred primarily by a medical officer who is seeking specialist advice.
It is not fair on the patient and it is a misrepresentation of the concept of a referral centre. Often these patients will never see a specialist.” Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Batatu Tafa, dismissed the allegations as false.
The Health Minister, however, told Parliament this week that “Clinical Services Department is the department most frequently sued. There are two main reasons as to why this department carried the bulk of the lawsuits and these are:
“All government hospitals fall under this department. Most law suits are on alleged medical negligence at these facilities.”
Minister Tlou was answering questions from Gaborone West South MP Robert Molefhabangwe.