My Healthcare Service Experience (Part 1)

Last month I wrote a blog on ‘A Chronic Diagnosis – The healthcare service you should expect.’ Today I would like to share my experience, the good, the bad and often, peculiar encounters with medical healthcare professionals. This narrative may spread over a few blogs, as I have numerous tales to share. 

By Cindy Pivacic.


The first was when my partner was ill, and I had to get him to the hospital as he had continuous stomach pains after three prior GP visits, which had not resolved.

My partner, let us call him Brad (not his real name), was hospitalised, had emergency surgery, and was diagnosed with bowel TB. His bowel perforated in four places, with septicaemia setting in. 

Just after he came out of surgery, he informed me that he elected to have an HIV test. I looked at him, confused, and asked why. The response he gave me was that he could not understand why he was always sick. This information was news, as I did not consider him as ‘always’ unwell except for the stomach cramps. Nothing more seemed particularly out of place. Visiting him a few days later, I recognised a nurse from a leading pathology institution that operated from premises in the hospital. I approached the end bed in a general ward of six beds. The curtains around the bed were not closed.

Standing at his bedside was the nurse from the pathology concern, who, as I approached, said, at the top of her voice, “Did he tell you he had an HIV- test and has his results?’ I was shocked at her asking this in a general ward full of people. I looked at her, and she nodded. I looked at Brad. He confirmed this information with a nod of assent. This lack of discretion blew my mind. Strangely enough, not so much because of the realisation of his HIV status, but because of the sheer lack of professionalism in so blatantly divulging this information in a ward full of people. Her public announcement almost overrode the information she blurted out.

The thoughtlessness of this ‘medical professional’ was my introduction to the disease. Furthermore, no pre – or post-counselling was forthcoming by the hospital. Sadly, the indiscreet phlebotomist had ensured that I instinctively knew my HIV status.

I immediately addressed her behaviour with our GP and later contacted the pathology company head office to take the matter further. I gained access to her registration number and wrote a fully detailed letter to the South African Nursing Council, addressed to their Registrar and CEO on July 18 2006 – that is how long it took to get all the information. I hoped, of course, to get her struck off the register, but the promised affidavit was not forthcoming from ‘Bob’ after hearing her telling all and sundry at a local sports club that Brad is HIV positive. On January 24 2007, I received a brief notification that there was insufficient evidence, and the case was closed.

This conduct is unprofessional, and disclosing a person’s HIV status is illegal. By taking the above action, I felt that I at least had some control of my HIV status and managed to stop disclosure by other people in its tracks.

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 3 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more. 

I did!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.


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