11 January 2013

South Africa: Probe Underway Into Alleged Gauteng Hospital Suicide

Pretoria — Gauteng Health MEC Hope Papo has set the wheels in motion for an investigation after a patient allegedly committed suicide at Natalspruit Hospital.

It is alleged that the patient, who was kept in an isolation ward, died on Thursday from severe burn wounds after setting alight the linen and mattress in which he was sleeping after midnight.

Nurses and hospital staff brought the fire under control, and no other patients were affected.

The patient was admitted to the hospital in December with 50% burn wounds after his shack reportedly caught fire. He was kept in an isolation ward to minimise the chances of infections to his wounds.

Papo has instructed a team from the department's head office to conduct an immediate investigation and provide a report to him as soon as possible. Hospital personnel have also been instructed to co-operate with the police investigation.

"This is a tragic incident that must be investigated in detail to provide us with full information about how it happened and whether it could have been prevented.

"Our condolences will be conveyed to the family and we would like to assure the public that there will be a thorough investigation," Papo said.

Police were called to the scene and have initiated a forensic investigation.

The patient's family was also called to the hospital on Thursday and were also offered psycho-social support to assist them in dealing with their loss.

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