Hospital stay a pain in the butt
A man who claims that a private hospital failed to give him adequate care is suing for millions.
George Vermeulen was admitted to Nelspruit Mediclinic on April 17 after contracting malaria in Mozambique. He spent just over a month in the hospital after being admitted to its cardiothoracic intensive care unit.
While there, he claims in papers filed at the Pretoria High Court, he developed bedsores on his buttocks and heels because the nursing staff failed to turn him.
At the time, Vermeulen weighed between 140kg and 180kg.
While in hospital, his malaria worsened "to an extent that it was thought he would not survive".
On Wednesday, the court heard that Vermeulen also suffered nerve injuries, severe weakness limiting his ability to move, and loss of sensation in his legs.
He said he underwent surgery repeatedly for the removal of dead tissue from his buttocks and heels.
He also had reconstructive surgery and now uses a wheelchair.
Vermeulen said that, as a direct consequence of the nerve injuries, he had suffered a loss of sensation in his lower legs and was unable to move.
He said the pressure sores and the nerve injuries were caused by negligent nursing while he was confined to a hospital bed and left in a chair for long periods, too weak to move himself.
He said standard pressure relief should have been provided to avert pressure sores and nerve injury.
The hospital responded by saying that, because of his obesity and critical illness, it was too dangerous to turn him.
It said Vermeulen was in the top one percentile of people at risk of getting sacral bed sores because of his weight and the malaria.
The hospital said he was bedridden for long periods, primarily on his back, and the medical staff's primary task was to help him fight for his life.
Vermeulen wants the hospital declared liable and ordered to compensate him for proved and agreed damages.