Health authorities are investigating after a woman accused False Bay Hospital of making her wait eight hours with severe stomach pain before sending her home, without an examination, saying she was in pain because she was overweight.
Joleen Fielies, of Ocean View, has a history of stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and had to go to a private doctor for help.
The provincial Department of Health has apologised to Ms Fielies for her “negative experience” but she says that’s not good enough and accuses it of taking the “easy way out”.
False Bay Hospital’s service was “unacceptable”, she said. “They think they can say sorry and everything will be okay. They cannot treat people like that.”
According to Ms Fielies, she went to the hospital on Sunday January 6, at 10am, after she was “folding double” from stomach pain.
She said she spent eight hours in the waiting room in severe pain, and when her name was eventually called, at 6pm, she was asked to touch her toes and asked a few questions before being told the pain was caused by weak lower back muscles due to her being overweight.
“At first I thought the doctor was joking but realised she was serious when she showed me out,” she said.
Ms Fielies claimed that when she asked for painkillers, the doctor told her prescribing medication would be a “waste of time”.
Ms Fielies said she had been “fuming” when she had left the hospital.
“I think TEARS (The Emma Animal Rescue Service) takes better care of their animals.”
Ms Fielies said she had still been in a lot of pain the next day and had gone to a private doctor, using some of her son’s school and stationery money to pay the R450 consultation fee.
The doctor had prescribed medication and told her severe constipation related to her IBS was the main cause of her pain. Her ulcer had also flared up.
IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine. Symptoms include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhoea or constipation.
Ms Fielies said she had also been given medication for wheezing, bringing her total bill for the doctor’s visit and medication to R650.
“It was R650 which I could not afford to spend, but I was in so much pain I could not function,” she said.
The doctor had told her it would take about two weeks for her intestine to regulate and she could still experience some pain from time to time.
“I was treated with compassion and care and that it how it should be,” she said.
Provincial health department spokeswoman Monique Johnstone said the complaint was taken very seriously and would be investigated.
Patients waiting to be treated were assessed according to the national Department of Health policy using the South African triage scale to ensure that
they were seen timeously, according to the degree of urgency.
Ms Johnstone said a patient might be referred to a local clinic or general practitioner if they did not need hospitalisation.
“Patients with non-urgent and non-life threatening conditions may experience long waiting times, as the patients with life-threatening conditions are attended to first by our medical staff,” she said.
The hospital, she said, was due to post new signage saying “day clinic before hospital” and “not all urgencies are emergencies”.
On Thursday, the Daily Voice reported that a Wynberg family plans to sue False Bay Hospital for negligence after the hospital allegedly misdiagnosed 61-year-old, Sheryl Biggs with diarrhoea instead of colon cancer.
Ms Biggs had been going to the hospital since March 2017 and now only has a few weeks to live. Her cancer was discovered after an emergency colonoscopy in August 2018 at the hospital and the family were told there was nothing doctors could do for her.
Ms Biggs’s son, Hafid, said the hospital manager had apologised and admitted to negligence but it would not change the situation.
Another provincial health department spokesman Mark van der Heever said the case had been discussed internally at the hospital’s patient safety meeting and morbidity and mortality meetings.
“Both of these meetings involve a multi-disciplinary team, the case is critically reviewed and strategies are generated
to improve patient care,”he