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Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture Credit: Kgothatso Madisa
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'Catastrophic' nursing blamed for Nkosi's death

By Olebogeng Molatlhwa | 2012-01-24 06:34:21.0 | COMMENTS [ 20 ]

AN INQUEST into the death of anti-apartheid veteran and former secretary of the Gauteng legislature Stanley Nkosi yesterday heard that his death could have been avoided had it not been for some "catastrophic" nursing.

Nkosi, who was tried and imprisoned for suspected terrorism activities on Robben Island with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe in 1977, died after undergoing surgery in 2008 at Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital.

The inquest - presided over by Johannesburg magistrate Danie van der Berg - heard that Nkosi underwent elective spinal surgery between 9pm and 9.30pm on July 22 but died shortly after midnight.

According to evidence in court, Nkosi grew restless at around 23.45pm, complaining that he was finding it difficult to breathe.

But, nurses monitoring him only informed doctors of the patient's deteriorating health much later. A doctor only arrived 19 minutes later to resuscitate Nkosi.

Lawyers for one of the doctors, Steven Farrell, said the quality of nursing on that day was "catastrophic" and that a 19-minute window of opportunity to save Nkosi's life was "squandered".

"From a nursing perspective, he (Nkosi) was not properly monitored," Farrell put it to forensic pathologist Dr Hestelle Nel. Nel agreed before adding that she could not accept the nurse's notes as "correct post-operative monitoring" because she could not make out what the nurse - known only as Tshabalala - was recording. Farrell called the nurse's notes "woeful".

Nel again called into question the nurses' monitoring of Nkosi, noting that they should have realised his respiratory rate had jumped to 37 - the normal rate being 12.

She also said increased swelling around Nkosi's neck should have also been a sign that "something should be done". Nkosi suffered from brain swelling because of a lack of oxygen, which caused increased blood flow into the arteries.

The hearing continues.


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Doc Aaron,
Stop harping on about NHI and medical aids and GET YOUR STAFF SORTED. Once you actually have a few hospitals that are not slaughter houses then you can politic to your heart's content. Until then, get the basics right.

2012-01-24 07:24:43.0 | 0 replies

MommaC stop smoking expired drugz .....

2012-01-24 10:28:39.0 | 0 replies

the service in our government hospitals is very poor ,i have first hand experience i nearly died @baragwanath in martenity while nurses were standing there just chatting,and yet there are poeple who would do anything to be in their positions,they are just there to collect a pay cheque at the end of the month

2012-01-24 10:31:24.0 | 0 replies

One white man once said ,It is safe to go to sangome hut than to government hospital. you go to Bara for simple illnes ( tonsil,toothache,simple stiches) and come back infected with other diseases.

2012-01-24 10:44:21.0 | 0 replies


I never smoke anything that I haven't grown myself.
What is your problem with my comment or are you simply stalking me?

2012-01-24 10:45:05.0 | 0 replies

MommaC: NHI has nothing to do with what happened at that hospital.

2012-01-24 11:04:50.0 | 0 replies

Bring back the Agolean bogus doctor. To operate this nurse or take this nurse to Limpopo for community service delivery.

2012-01-24 11:12:32.0 | 0 replies

I agree with you guys to a certain extent. Yes government hospitals are bad but we cant blame the nurses for the deteriorating states they are in. My mother was a nurse @ Baragwanath for 34 years and she made sure that she served our people with pride. She retired in Dec 2011. In the time she served she never had a case against her for anything. Her seniors even said that they"ve never seeing a cleaner record of service. I cried when I heard this. I was proud that my mom was a nurse. Not all nurse are the same. In every job all thats required for it to be done successfully and faultlessly is PASSION. Most of us are in jobs we do not like because these were the only jobs we could get and besides they pay the bills. The 1st rule should be find what you like and then go ahead and do it.

2012-01-24 13:52:56.0 | 0 replies

I lost a friend last week, in rustenburg public hospital. he dead waiting for a bed.

2012-01-24 14:12:23.0 | 0 replies

Now they are shifting the blame to the poor nurse

2012-01-24 10:14:02.0 | 0 replies

Rest in Peace Comrade Stan Nkosi.....idabi lakho uligqibile, kudala uzabala! Uthi wawuzobona nje ontamolukhuni laba abaphawulayo ngosizo olithole ezibhedlela eza moshwa yibo, bathi lenhlangano owazinikela kuyo, wathixelwa entolongweni ngayo iyaphoxa? *sigh*...sizakuqhubela lapho ogcine khona.

Powers should be decentralised its high time now, infact that should have been done a long time ago. Give Hospital CEO's real powers to run the institutions. Supply Chain should be moved from Province to each tertiary and secondary hospital, that goes for hiring and firing. We should also de-unionise the health care. It cant be possible that when health workers are in need, they iether in some training or political meeting.

Much has to be done with giving primary health care teeth. Its mandade should extend beyond SIT's and Pregnancy........

2012-01-24 09:33:07.0 | 0 replies