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07.01.2004 General News

Hospital staff refused to treat my husband - Widow tells NRC

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Accra, Jan. 7, GNA- A widow of two on Wednesday told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) how her late husband, who was hit by a stray bullet, was refused treatment by staff at the Korle Bu Teaching hospital.

Madam Ophelia Tawiah Mensah, 32, of La in Accra said the delay in treating the wounds of her husband, Mr Robert Annan Quartey, resulted in the amputation of her legs.

She was testifying on behalf of the late husband who had filed a petition with the Commission, but died in September last year, before he could be called for hearing.

She said at the time of Mr Quartey's death, his second child with Ophelia was only one month old while the first was six years. The Commission heard that the shooting incident took place at Adabraka in Accra in 1982 when some soldiers had gone there to quell a riot near the car-washing bay where he worked.

Witness said Mr Quartey, who she met 10 years after the incident, told her that stray bullets from warning shots fired by the soldiers hit him while he was sleeping in a car.

Madam Mensah said her husband told her that doctors and nurses at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital mistook him for a thief and for three hours refused to attend to him.

She said it was not until the husband's friends later arrived and exonerated him that the medical team agreed to attend to him, but the wounds had become gangrenous, leading to the amputation of the leg. The husband was on admission for more than three months at the Hospital, Madam Mensah said, adding that relatives and friends bore his medical bills.

Madam Mensah said Mr Quartey was given clutches, and later had an artificial leg fixed on him, but he felt uncomfortable with it and went back on the clutches.

She said her husband who was paid 400,000 cedis as compensation, complained of severe aches in his leg, and could not do any meaningful work until he died.

Madam Mensah said Mr Quartey fell during a church service and died the next day on September 9, barely a month after she had delivered their second child.

She prayed the Commission for appropriate compensation to take care of her two children.

The Commission assured her of looking into her case, and asked her to furnish it with the autopsy report on the death of her husband. General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, a Member of the Commission, condemned the behaviour of the doctors and nurses.

He described their stance as unfortunate and said even if Mr Quartey were a thief they had no justification to refuse him treatment, and that he could have been alive now if they had attended to him earlier.

General Erskine, a former Commander of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon, recalled that even in war situation in the Middle East, an Israeli doctor never refused to treat a wounded Palestinian because of the enmity between the two sides.

He advised medical professionals in the nation's health institutions to take note of the case and improve their attitude towards patients.

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