Ocean View man threatens to sue hospital

Quenton Fisher has accused False Bay Hospital of negligence. He says a fall at the hospital left him partially lame in the right side of his body.

An Ocean View man is threatening to sue False Bay Hospital for negligence, claiming a fall he had there has left him partially lame in the right side of his body.

Quenton Fisher, 50, was admitted to False Bay Hospital on Friday December 18 last year with Covid-19. He says he spent six days there before being transferred to Brackengate field hospital without his family being notified.

He remained at Brackengate for a further 15 days with little to none contact with his wife before being discharged on Wednesday January 6.

His wife, Natalie, says she was sick with worry and did not know whether he was dead or alive during this time.

Ms Fisher said her husband had been very weak on the day of admission at False Bay Hospital and she and her son had had to help him inside. The nurse had made a note in his file that he had difficulty walking, she said.

Because Covid-19 restrictions prevented Ms Fisher from visiting her husband, she dropped off a cellphone for him the following day so they could stay in touch. But she had battled to reach him on Sunday December 20 and then when he had answered the phone he had told her that he had had fall and he could not use his right hand and leg and he had stitches in his head.

Ms Fisher said that when she had called the hospital on Monday December 21, demanding answers she had been told that her husband had been taken to Groote Schuur Hospital to see a neurosurgeon and would return to False Bay Hospital as he did not need surgery.

She had called several times the following day and emailed hospital management. Hospital management had called to say the matter would be discussed with the matron and that the bars on the sides of his bed had been up when he allegedly fell.

“No one came back to me afterwards. I was furious and frustrated as I could not get any information from the hospital,” she said.

When she called on Thursday December 24, she was told her husband had been transferred to the Brackengate hospital and she had to collect his clothing.

“His clothing was in a plastic bag along with other people’s clothing. It was damp and full of mould,” she said.

Mr Fisher said he had fallen while on his way back from the toilet at False Bay Hospital. He had asked a nurse to help him go to the toilet, but she had told him she was busy. After calling again for help and getting no response, he had walked to the toilet by himself. On the way back, he had been short of breath and had stopped in the passage. A nurse had asked him what he was doing there but had walked on without assisting him. He had gone on to his room where he had fallen before reaching his bed. Two patients had helped him and he had only realised he was bleeding after feeling something wet on his face.

Mr Fisher, a carpenter, said that as a result of the fall he had little grip in his right hand and he had difficulty walking as his right leg was lame. He said he had pains in the right side of his body and in his back and had been unable to work.

Ms Fisher said they wanted answers and they were disappointed that False Bay Hospital had not offered Mr Fisher any assistance such as physiotherapy after the incident. They have opened a case with the Office of the Health Ombud.

They have received a bill from False Bay Hospital for R175 and one for R140 from Groote Schuur.

Provincial Department of Health spokeswoman Natalie Watlington said Mr Fisher had been assessed upon admission and found to be at no risk for a fall. She said that following his fall he had been sent for a CT scan at Groote Schuur but had been advised that no surgery was needed.

Ms Watlington said physiotherapy services had been limited during the peak of Covid-19 and were only available to patients who had been admitted.

The Brackengate hospital had been at full capacity during Mr Fisher’s stay because of the Covid-19 second wave, she said. The hospital had been flooded with calls daily but every effort had been made – including appointing extra switchboard staff – to contact patients’ families.

“We understand that it is not easy to be separated from loved ones who are hospitalised and apologise to Mrs Fisher for her experience during her husband’s hospitalisation,” she said.

Health Ombud spokesman Ricardo Mahlakanya said the matter was under investigation.