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Medicine mayhem

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Medicine mayhem

by Shahista Rohan-Toefy
07 May 2008
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

A patient at Gatesville Medical Centre (GMC) is alleged to have violently attacked the other patients in her ward.


On Sunday, 6 April, Sandra Petersen (56) was taken to GMC with pneumonia.

Petersen explains that on Monday, a patient who was in the same ward as her started acting "weird".

According to Petersen, as well as her son, Craig, and daughter-in-law, Dawn, the woman lying opposite her kept walking back and forth, and showered a number of times while wearing her clothes.

They say a nurse entered the room and told the patient, who seemed to be in her late twenties, to lie down. After she was taken to a doctor, the patient apparently reverted to normal behaviour. But this did not last very long, says Petersen: according to her, the patient started to climb and jump repeatedly from her bed.

Again, a nurse asked her to lie down, but this apparently aggravated her, and she kicked the nurse twice in the chest, says Petersen.

She says two nurses then struggled to calm the patient, who grabbed a television cable and pulled the unit to the floor. "She smacked the two other patients and headed for me. She smacked me and pulled out my drip in my hand," says Petersen.

She said that a nurse eventually gave the patient an injection and she calmed down.

Petersen says she felt upset that the woman was placed in a room with her, especially after showing signs of mental illness. "We paid a lot of money and look at the treatment I got. It's not fair."

She says the hospital gave her an apology and a box of chocolates, but she feels more should be done: "I want people to see what GMC is doing ... I could have been killed."

The hospital responded to the allegations by firstly denying that a mental patient had been put in the same ward as the other patients; the woman's behaviour was said to have been caused by a reaction to the medication she was given. The hospital manager, Mastura Johnson of GMC, said she could not divulge any information about the medication that was used, and whether or not the patient's reaction to it was typical; she also declined to comment on what the patient was being treated for.

"I would need the patient's, as well as the doctor's, permission before giving those details," she says.

The hospital also states, "Our Public Relations Officer, Ms Allison Davids, and our Nursing Services Managers on numerous occasions called on the patients in the ward, offering them apologies and counselling where necessary, and also showered them with gifts."

The hospital wished to place on record that, "at no stage did the patient shower herself with her clothes on, as alleged by the family of Mrs Petersen.

"She never smacked the patients in their faces. However one patient was shoved in the face".

In the attempt to restrain the patient, some staff were at the receiving end of the patient's aggression, according to the hospital. "With the above in mind, under the circumstances, our nursing staff excelled in their professional duty to control the patient, who reacted to medication administered to her."

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