Nurses cleared of misconduct

Friday, July 24, 2009

Johannesburg - An investigation into the conduct of three nurses after the death of a 12-year-old child has cleared the nurses of any misconduct.

Samukelisiwe Sikhundla, who was admitted at the Edenvale Hospital on 19 June with tonsillitis, died of a fractured skull and a dislocated spine after allegedly jumping from her ward window during the night.

As a pre-cautionary measure, the three nurses, who were on duty, were suspended pending an internal investigation.

"The investigation has since cleared the nurses of any wrong doing and recommends that their precautionary suspension be lifted with immediate effect," the Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development said in a statement.

However, it recommended that the two doctors and a nurse, who was in-charge of the ward during the night of the incident, be charged with misconduct.

The department said the matter will also be referred to the Health Professionals Council of South Africa.

Gauteng MEC for Health and Social Development, Qedani Mahlangu has reiterated that incompetence, negligence and misconduct would not be tolerated and warned that tough disciplinary measures would be taken against any one found guilty.

"Those found to be guilty of these acts will be kicked out of the system and if they are also found to be criminally liable for their actions, the law must take its course," Ms Mahlangu said.

She noted that while the department understands that doctors and nurses work under difficult conditions, ill-treatment and abuse of patients cannot be justified.

Last week, Ms Mahlangu issued a stern warning to health professionals who were indifferent to the suffering of their patients.

During her visit to the Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital at Garankuwa last Friday, MEC Mahlangu said the department was willing to assist the hospital wherever possible, but it will not put up with nurses and doctors who neglect their patients.

"I'll always be behind you and support you when you do good things, but I will also hammer you when you do bad things," Ms Mahlangu said at the time.