Patient 'refused treatment'
Doctor told unemployed man to buy his own treatment worth R50,000 before he could be operated on.
A PATIENT with kidney cancer was allegedly turned away at Helen Joseph Hospital in Johannesburg by a doctor who told him to buy his own treatment worth R50.000 before he could be operated on.
Unemployed Thato Mofokeng, 22, of Tsepisong near Roodepoort, on the West Rand, said the doctor told him that the hospital did not have the treatment required for his condition.
Mofokeng was diagnosed with kidney cancer in May and has been in and out of public health facilities since then.
"The doctor simply told me that I have to buy my own treatment, from a private hospital, before they could operate on me," Mofokeng said.
He said out of anger, he asked for his medical records .
When Sowetan visited him at his home this week, Mofokeng was lying topless on a thin mattress on the floor, in pain, as he cannot walk, or get onto his bed.
"I'm in pain," Mofokeng said. "Sometimes, my bones ache so bad that it becomes difficult to even lie on my back, or even sleep sideways. When that happens, I sleep on my knees and balance my upper body on my mother's back."
A doctor's letter to Mofokeng reads in part: "... No smart drugs or immunotherapy available in government hospitals. If he can organise to get chemotherapy from private (clinics or hospitals), then we can offer help..."
Top Johannesburg oncologist Dr Malik Gulzar said kidney cancer was a rare and expensive disease to treat.
"It's not curable," Gulzar said. "Smart drugs cost up to R26,000 for a month's treatment. A patient can be on that treatment for months, or even years, depending on whether the body responds to it."
About the medication, Gulzar said: "Government hospitals do not offer it to patients because it does not have guarantees. It just gives comfort to patients. But they (doctors) can still treat him differently, using alternatives."
Gauteng health department spokesman Simon Zwane asked Mofokeng to return to the hospital with his medical records and meet the institution's CEO (Gladys Bogoshi) in order to resolve the matter.
"It's not the policy of the hospital to refer a patient to a private institution for medical care," Zwane said.
"In cases for which a hospital does not provide the service required by a patient, arrangements are made with another public health facility to assist the patient."
Health Professions Council of SA CEO Dr Biyiswa Mjamba-Matshoba said although patients were allowed access to their medical records, removing them from the hospital's property constituted theft.
Meanwhile, Bogoshi said they did not allow patients to take their medical records home.
"We only give them copies and we keep the originals," said Bogoshi.
"We have a computer system in place but we need the hard copy because it has the patient's day-to-day reviews. He was not given permission to take the file and it's very rare that something like this happens."
- This article was first published in the printed newspaper on 16 August 2012