Even as police investigations continue, there are conflicting reports about circumstances under which a Mahalapye woman fell off a moving ambulance between Dibete and Artesia.
Gosetsemang Letsogile, the woman’s nephew, says that a doctor at the Mahalapye hospital told family members on Tuesday that his aunt was unattended at the time of the accident as the nurse was riding with the driver upfront.
On the other hand, the station commander of the Dibete police, Superintendent Phineas Makwaiba, refutes such assertion, insisting that at the time of the accident, the nurse was sitting at the patient’s bedside in the back of the ambulance. One very important protocol for inter-facility patient transfer is that a nurse should ride with a patient throughout the journey. This is to ensure that the nurse meets the patient’s needs and maintains continuity of care throughout transport.
The patient was being transferred back to Mahalapye hospital after undergoing a brain scan at the Princess Marina hospital where she had been referred. She had slipped in the shower at a home where she works as a maid and bumped her head. The woman suffered another injury when she fell off the ambulance.
Beyond the question of where the nurse was sitting at the time of the accident, there is the issue of why the ambulance crew itself never reported the accident to the police. That the accident happened between Dibete and Artesia when the ambulance was on its way to Mahalapye means that it should have been reported at the Dibete police station. Makwaiba himself confirms this.
“They [the crew] should have reported the accident to us but they probably were not aware,” he says.
The crew did also not report the accident to the Mahalapye police who were alerted the following day by the patient’s family. According to Letsogile (and this has been confirmed by Assistant Superintendent Thito Freeman of the Mahalapye police) it was his sister and aunt who reported the accident to them.
When the latter pair went to the hospital, they found the patient with hideous wounds sustained during the accident whose occurrence they only got to learn about when they enquired from hospital staff. They reported the matter to the Mahalapye police the following day but because the accident had occurred in the Dibete police district, they could only refer the matter and not investigate it themselves.
As with other government health facilities, the Mahalapye hospital has to contend with its own share of patient/customer care challenges and grievances.
Three years ago, a story was reported in the press about an expatriate doctor at the hospital who threatened to “beat to death” two young men visiting their grandfather who had been hospitalised there. This followed a verbal altercation and by various accounts, the doctor was notoriously problematic.