Hospital policy risked child’s life, mom says

A Parkside woman is claiming that Life Beacon Bay Hospital put her daughter’s life at risk by classifying her as non-critical when she was brought in because of abdominal pains.  After a four-hour wait, a doctor diagnosed her daughter with severe appendicitis and rushed her to surgery.

LEFT WAITING: Audrey Jakobus, whose daughter had to undergo emergency surgery for appendicitis at Life Beacon Bay Hospital

Jakobus said she initially took her daughter to a nearby clinic, where she was who diagnosed her daughter with a worm infestation. She was given medication and sent home.

However, the medication was ineffective and her daughter’s abdominal pain only worsened.

“What made me go there [Life Beacon Bay Hospital] was that she was beginning to get cold, her hands were getting cold and her feet, and she started hallucinating,” Jakobus said.

When she arrived at the hospital, Jakobus said her daughter was labelled as non-critical because she was not showing any obvious symptoms. However, she claimed a nurse did acknowledge her daughter may have appendicitis but said nothing further was done.

They were then left in the waiting room for nearly four hours while her the daughter’s condition worsened. Jakobus was then forced to take her daughter to the emergency room because her pain was “unbearable”.

They were finally allowed to see a doctor, who quickly identified the problem.

“The doctor knew already [that she had appendicitis]. He couldn’t even put his hand on her tummy because it was so painful,” she said.

Jakobus said her daughter was operated on immediately.

“I almost lost her,” Jakobus said.

In addition, she said says that no one from Life Beacon Bay Hospital initially offered an explanation or apology.

After being contacted by the GO! & Express, Life Beacon Bay Hospital launched an internal investigation into the matter.

When it was over, Border Kei regional manager executive Bruce Janssens later released a statement on behalf of the hospital.

According to Janssens, Life Beacon Bay Hospital uses an “internationally recognised triage system” to prioritise patients based on the seriousness of their condition.

“On the day in question, the unit had 12 patients classed as yellow and two classed as orange. In line with the triage system, orange patients are in need of immediate medical attention and are seen first.

“Patients who are assessed who are yellow are seen as soon as possible thereafter,” Janssens said.

If a patient’s condition deteriorates during their wait, they may be reclassified and moved into a more urgent category. This was what happened to Jakobus’s daughter and was in line with hospital policy, he said.

“In Ms Jakobus’ case, due to her pain levels increasing while waiting, she was reclassed from green to yellow and the doctor saw to her as soon as possible thereafter.”

Jakobus, however, believes this labelling system used by the hospital is harmful and put people like her daughter at risk. She said labelling a patient someone as green (non-critical) meant that they may now have to wait hours on end before they were treated.

“You are lost if it’s actually serious and you’re green,” she said.


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