The Mercury

R14m pay­out for med­i­cal neg­li­gence

- Kamini Pa­day­achee Crime · Medicine · Society · Incidents · Mahatma Gandhi · Pietermaritzburg · Abortions

AHARROWING al­most 24-hours in labour and a seizure caused by a lifethreat­en­ing com­pli­ca­tion were what a Dur­ban mother had to en­dure when she went to a gov­ern­ment clinic to give birth to her baby girl.

Her child was born se­verely brain dam­aged in 2009 and will have to rely on oth­ers for the rest of her life.

The woman, who is not be­ing named to pro­tect the iden­tity of her 6-year-old daugh­ter, sued the Health MEC for dam­ages as she claimed that staff at an Inanda clinic and Ma­hatma Gandhi Hos­pi­tal had been neg­li­gent.

The mat­ter was set down for trial in the Pi­eter­mar­itzburg High Court as the Health Depart­ment had de­nied any wrong­do­ing and said the mother and child had been given proper care.

But the mat­ter was re­cently set­tled.

Fried­man and As­so­ci­ates, the mother’s law firm, said in terms of the court or­der, the depart­ment was or­dered to pay R14 mil­lion to the mother, and her le­gal costs.

The court also di­rected that a trust be set up in the child’s name and that the depart­ment pay the trustees’ re­mu­ner­a­tion.

The court pa­pers de­tail the mother’s con­di­tion from when she was ad­mit­ted to the Inanda clinic at mid­day on De­cem­ber 12, 2009, af­ter she had been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing labour pains from 5am.

She had el­e­vated blood pres­sure and her doc­tor or­dered that the baby’s heart rate be checked ev­ery 30 min­utes. He also or­dered that the mother be re­assessed ev­ery two hours.

At 10pm, it was recorded that the baby’s heart rate had dropped, but the ob­ser­va­tion was not re­ported to a doc­tor.

From 10.40pm, there were no more ob­ser­va­tions done on the con­di­tion of the mother or the baby by the clinic staff.

The mother was trans­ferred to Ma­hatma Gandhi hos­pi­tal only af­ter mid­night, and at 2am she was di­ag­nosed with eclamp­sia, a life-threat­en­ing com­pli­ca­tion of preg­nancy caus­ing seizures or coma.


She had a seizure with stiff­ness in her limbs and the baby was de­liv­ered by cae­sarean sec­tion just be­fore 5am.

The court pa­pers said the clinic staff failed to prop­erly mon­i­tor the con­di­tion of the mother, es­pe­cially her el­e­vated blood pres­sure, and that she was in pro­longed labour.

They also failed to pick up that the health of the child was be­ing com­pro­mised when the baby’s heart rate dropped.

“The med­i­cal per­son­nel at the clinic and the hos­pi­tal failed to pro­vide the mother and child with ap­pro­pri­ate treat­ment, failed to take such steps to en­sure the baby’s best care and well-be­ing.”

The child was born se­verely men­tally and phys­i­cally hand­i­capped, blind and partly deaf.

She will need ther­apy, spe­cialised med­i­cal equip­ment and adap­ta­tions to her liv­ing en­vi­ron­ment and full-time care ei­ther at home or in a spe­cialised in­sti­tu­tion.

 ?? PIC­TURE: CHARLES BOTHA ?? The hair­less mon­key at Um­lalazi near Mtun­zini, which ap­pears to be healthy and hap­pily in­te­grated into its troop.
PIC­TURE: CHARLES BOTHA The hair­less mon­key at Um­lalazi near Mtun­zini, which ap­pears to be healthy and hap­pily in­te­grated into its troop.

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