State hospital stitched up cut in man’s foot with glass still inside

Duane Osborne with the piece of glass that was removed from his foot
Duane Osborne with the piece of glass that was removed from his foot

WHEN Duane Osborne went to a private doctor with an infection in his leg he was shocked to discover that staff at the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital had stitched up a cut in his foot a month earlier while there was still a piece of glass inside.

“I was absolutely gobsmacked. When I saw the X-rays showing the glass in my foot I could not believe that a doctor would stitch my foot up without even checking if there was anything left in the cut,” the Despatch resident said.

This comes after Weekend Post’s sister publication The Herald published a story about Andile Saki, from Walmer Township, who spent 10 days with an 8cm shard of glass in his leg after staff at Port Elizabeth’s Livingstone Hospital stapled a gash in his leg.

Osborne, 30, was visiting friends at Sundays River on January 25. While out on a boat, he knocked over a glass and stepped on the broken pieces, cutting his foot badly.

He was taken to the Uitenhage Provincial Hospital, the state hospital closest to where he lived.

“The doctor treating me was very nice, but he seemed to be in a hurry. On more than one occasion a nurse would come in and tell him he was needed somewhere else. When he started he said the foot would need about 10 stitches, but when he was done I only counted six, and one of those had pulled out while he was still busy.”

His foot was bandaged and he was told to return in 10 days to remove the stitches. However, he decided to visit a private doctor as by day 10 the wound still did not look better.

“The doctor told me to be patient, it would take some time to heal . . . By the end of February, however, I became worried, because the pain started getting worse.”

On February 25 infection had started setting in and was slowly spreading up his ankle. Osborne was given a course of antibiotics and then X-rays revealed a jagged piece of glass slightly bigger than a 50c coin.

“The doctors . . . could not understand how a piece of glass that big was left inside my foot and simply stitched up. Arrangements were immediately made to have it removed.”

Now, almost two weeks later, Osborne still walks using a crutch, but he is recovering well and he hopes to be able to drive by next week.

“. . . I am in the process of getting myself a good medical aid. It will cost quite a bit, but I cannot help thinking what would have happened if I had a bigger accident . . . If the hospital could mess up a cut in my foot, how will they handle a real emergency?”

Health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said patients with complaints about service at a state hospital should contact the hospital’s chief executive officer, or call the department’s customer care line at 0800-032-364.

-Riaan Marais 

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