Preliminary investigations into the death of a patient at Tembisa hospital, after being stabbed in the head, have found that the patient had received treatment throughout his stay at the hospital but his condition had deteriorated rapidly offering doctors no opportunity for safe removal of the knife.
According to Mr Moses Chauke’s medical records, he presented to the emergency department resuscitation room at about 19h00 on 18 August 2013 with a history of being stabbed in the head with a knife. The knife was still lodged in the skull.
He was assessed by the casualty officer on duty who found him to be restless, with a knife stuck on his skull. The entire blade of the knife was embedded in the brain. He had no other injuries.
Upon that realisation, he was sent to the x-ray department for a brain scan. Thereafter, he was brought back to the resuscitation room of the emergency department for close monitoring while awaiting the scan report. The brain scan report showed that there was extensive bleeding into the brain which caused the patient’s condition to deteriorate.
His level of consciousness decreased to an extent that he required endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilatory support. His blood pressure was also high. The next day, Mr Chauke was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit where he was also closely monitored and given necessary treatment.
The patient was seen by the neurosurgeon from Steve Biko Pretoria Academic Hospital who after assessing his condition declared that he was brain dead. The patient remained in the intensive care unit receiving supportive care until his demise on 20 August 2013.
“The patient had sustained a severe penetrating injury to the brain with massive bleeding into the brain tissue and ventricles. His condition deteriorated rapidly after the scan was done and hence there was no opportunity for safe removal of the knife by a neurosurgeon under optimal conditions,” said hospital CEO, Dr Daisy Pekane.
She added that it would have been futile and unethical to take the patient to the operating room for surgical removal of the knife when he was brain dead.
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