A disillusioned Ryno Cawood went to hell with his family this past week after his father, Ralph Cawood, 74, was admitted to the Potchefstroom Hospital last Wednesday (December 4).
Ryno called the ambulance at 20:30 on Wednesday evening after his father suddenly could not speak or respond. There was foam coming out of his mouth as well. After ER24 picked him up and stabilized at his home, he was admitted to the Potchefstroom Hospital. He was then transferred to Hall 2 and Friday to Hall 9. The hospital staff suspected he had had a stroke.
With visitation time, Thursday afternoon (December 5) between 2pm and 3pm, Ryno noticed his father took a deep breath and had palpitations. He was restless and looked anxious. He then approached the nursing staff who were sitting together in an office. They talked and laughed, and when he asked them to come and see his father, they simply ignored him.
On Thursday and Friday, Ryno insisted on talking to a doctor who could explain his father’s condition and many times the nursing staff apparently denied that Ryno was looking at his father’s file. They said they would give him feedback, but never did. The nursing staff did not wear name tags and when he wanted to know their names, they refused to give it to him. For Ryno, it was very disturbing to see in what a bad state his father was and no one could tell him what was wrong.
On Friday afternoon (December 6) with visiting time, a nurse told Ryno that his father did not want to talk or eat. It was strange to him that the nurse was making the remark because, according to him, it indicates that the nursing staff did not know what his father’s condition was “My father could not speak or eat because he was unable to do so”, said Ryno. On Friday night, he insisted that someone pay attention to his father because his blood pressure is too high. A sister allegedly walked over to Ryno’s mother, gave her a blood pressure pill and told her to give it to him. That, after he can’t swallow.
On Saturday (December 7), Ryno realized he had to bring it to someone’s attention that his father had not yet been fed. His father could not swallow and there was no feeding tube attached to him to feed him. He was desperate and informed a retired sister, who previously worked at the hospital, of his father’s condition. She then started calling hospital staff to bring the matter to their attention. Although Ralph had a feeding tube that afternoon, it was apparently inserted incorrectly because it lay on his tongue. According to Ryno, the nutritional drops were on his bedside table, but were not connected to his feeding tube.
On Saturday night he again insisted that his feeding tube be inserted correctly, but no one could help. On Sunday (December 8) his feeding tube was removed and reinserted by evening, but the feeding bags were still standing on his bedside table. There was a clean injection attached to his feeding tube. Meanwhile, Ralph’s condition was deteriorating.
On Wednesday (December 11) seven days after Ralph was admitted, his family was able to speak to a medical doctor about his condition for the first time. According to Ryno, the doctor confirmed that Ralph had lung infection because his feeding tube was not inserted properly and the nutrition went into his lungs. Ralph died around 8:30 pm on Wednesday night.
Ryno is furious at his father’s treatment. “The hospital staff’s poor communication, unhelpfulness and inability to do their job right caused his father to die. His body weakened because he couldn’t get nutrition and he contracted lung infection after inserting the feeding tube incorrectly. The situation was made worse by the nursing staff’s rude, sluggish-me-not attitude and made his suffering and our last days with him hell, ”he says.
According to Potchefstroom Hospital spokesperson, Modiri Mompati, all patients who may have had a stroke are assessed by a speech therapist for aspiration.
The speech therapist assessed Ralph the second day after he was admitted and found that he had swallowing reflexes. The second day there was only trying to give Ralph puree nutrition. It did not succeed. A feeding tube was inserted on the third day. Mompati said Ralph had received fluid intravenously since he was admitted.
Mompati goes on to say that the hopital staff’s rude and unhelpful behavior and the fact that they did not wear name tags will be further investigated.
About the poor communication between the doctor and family, Mompati says the family is requested to make an appointment with the doctors treating the patient.