/ 3 December 2007

DA: Health Dept should be sued for klebsiella outbreak

The health department should be sued for the klebsiella outbreak by the parents of the five dead babies, the Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Monday.

DA spokesperson for health, Mike Waters, said the parents of the two surviving babies should also sue the department for negligence.

”It’s just that we are dealing with people who are unaware of their rights and who are being bullied by medical staff at the hospital,” said Waters.

The five babies, infected by klebsiella, died at Umlazi’s Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in November and two had survived.

There were similar outbreaks at Mahatma Gandhi Hospital in Phoenix in 2005.

Waters said the report by the microbiologist had shown that the outbreak was caused by overcrowding, understaffing, re-use of intravenous equipment, and nurses with dirty hands.

”Clearly the Department of Health is at fault and we believe compensation should be paid out to the families of the five dead babies.”

He said action should be taken against the medical staff who re-used intravenous equipment.

”Someone must be held accountable for these deaths … or else it will continue … the least the health department could do is hold an internal inquiry to find out whose dirty hands it was … because — as far as we know — there has been no inquiry to find out who was at fault,” he said.

The KwaZulu-Natal health department was not immediately available for comment. – Sapa