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Man says KZN surgeon left needle in his jaw

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In February this year, he went to Madadeni Hospital in Newcastle, where X-rays showed an object lodged in his jaw.

File image. Photo: Pexels

Durban – THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department is investigating yet another allegation of negligence after an object thought to be part of a needle was left in a man’s jaw when he was operated on last year.

Mandla Sithole, 28, from Paulpietersburg, in the north of the province, slipped and fell at work in November 2017 and broke his jawbone.

Sithole was rushed to a private general practitioner who recommended that he was seen by an orthopaedic specialist.

“The doctor said I had a broken jaw and that surgery was required, but I had no money to travel between home and Grey’s Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

“In January 2018, I went to a local healthcare centre where X-rays were taken, proving that I had broken my jaw.

“I was then referred to Grey’s Hospital for an operation. The surgery was finally performed around July after I had been sent from pillar to post. I was discharged and told to return after two weeks for check-ups,” he said.

Sithole said he suffered excruciating pain from the operation in the two weeks and could not go to work.

He says he started bleeding through the nose, which prompted him to go back to the clinic, where painkillers were recommended at his expense, allegedly by Grey’s Hospital.

“I spent about six months on these pills, with no improvement in my condition. It became worse in hot temperature as pus would also come out of my nose.”

In February this year, he went to Madadeni Hospital in Newcastle, where X-rays showed an object lodged in his jaw. Sithole believes it could have broken off from an instrument used in his operation.

“I then went back to Grey’s and the doctor who operated on me was rude, asking who had called me to the hospital. He didn’t even bother to look into the X-rays from Madadeni.”

He added that he had no desire to go back to a government healthcare facility.

When the matter finally reached the attention of Grey’s management, a hospital official called Sithole to arrange for check-ups to establish what exactly the problem was.

Department spokesperson Noluthando Nkosi said: “Although the department does not by law publicly discuss confidential clinical details of patients or how they were managed at health facilities, the situation is nevertheless of extreme concern to the department and is being investigated at head office.”

She said the necessary action would be taken once the facts were established.

“The patient was seen by a clinician and has a follow-up appointment on November 4.

“Specialists at Grey’s Hospital have made a proposal for further intervention to assist the patient.

“However, this has so far been met with reluctance. Should the patient and/or his family change their minds, the necessary corrective procedure will be undertaken,” she said.

Dr Rishigen Viranna, DA spokesperson for health, said an investigation was needed to establish how the object was left in Sithole’s jaw, and whether proper procedures were followed after the operation.

“The standard operating procedure is that the surgeon and nurse in charge make sure that swabs and all operating instruments are where they should be as a way of ensuring that nothing is left inside a patient,” he said.

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