Epileptic patient handcuffed to bed
MBABANE - An epileptic patient suffered serious injuries to the head and body after he was handcuffed by the hospital’s security personnel.
They had done so after instruction from the nurses on Sunday night.
This was at the Mbabane Government Hospital.
The patient had suffered a fit and was violent. This is what led the nurses to take the decision to have him handcuffed as he was allegedly a threat to other patients.
The only problem is that they were not there when he woke up.
When Jomo Mavuso regained consciousness, he was shocked to find that he was handcuffed and could hardly move. He then started screaming, demanding that he be released while at the same time demanding to know where he was.
The other patients became worried when Mavuso jumped out of bed and headed straight for the window and banged his head against it until it broke. He was also using his knees to try force his way out. Mavuso was admitted to the Male Surgical Ward on the second floor.
The best the other patients could do was to scream and call out for nurses.
One of the patients who was admitted to the same ward as Mavuso, said had the nurses been present the whole incident could have been prevented.
He said Mavuso wanted to jump out through the window, but was prevented by the bed as he was handcuffed to it. The window was next to his bed.
"He suffered an epileptic seizure at around 8pm on Sunday. The nurses on duty immediately called for the hospital’s security guards who responded promptly and handcuffed him to his bed.
"The nurses gave Mavuso medication to calm him, but they however didn’t release him from the handcuffs. When he woke up he called for the nurses to remove the handcuffs, unfortunately they were not around. We don’t know why they were not there, but we think it has something to do with their protest action.
"Seeing that no one was attending to him Mavuso started hitting his head against the window. He looked confused and was banging his head against the window and knees on the bed. This went on until the window broke.
"By then he was bleeding profusely from both his head and knees. No nurse came to his assistance despite the commotion Mavuso was causing. We had no choice, but to attend to him because we realised that he could seriously injure himself if he was not stopped," said the patient.
They said it was only after a long time that the nurses came rushing into the ward. By this time there was blood all over the ward.
"What surprised us is that as soon as the nurses and the security guards arrived, they released him and he has been calm ever since," said the patient.
Mavuso had another seizure on Wednesday at around 5pm where he was again chained to his bed for a couple of hours.
Explaining the Sunday incident, Mavuso said he was shocked to wake up and find that he could not move.
"I was tied to my bed and my arm was aching. I tried in vain to call for a nurse, but no one came. There was not even a single nurse in sight to assist me. The other patients also tried calling for a nurse, but none came. Everything happened fast and I panicked as I could not make sense of my surroundings.
"After I started panicking I don’t remember what really transpired. I only realised later that I had sustained serious injuries on my head and knees. I must have been trying to break free from the handcuffs and in the process I injured myself because at the time I felt serious pain on my head and knee," said Mavuso.
Ministry of Health Principal Secretary, Dr Stephen Shongwe, said a seizure or fits maybe due to many causes including epilepsy. He said depending on the status of the patient, there may be a need, within reasonable limits, to use certain measures to restrain a patient for his own protection and others.
"This applies in cases when a patient is violent or causing disturbance. In all cases due caution must be exercised to ensure the patient does not suffer any injuries. The patient, at all times must be treated with respect," said Shongwe.
He added that it is the doctors and nurses’ prerogative to make diagnosis of the patient and decide on the best available treat-ment.
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