News / South Africa

Ilse de Lange
2 minute read
15 Jun 2017
6:45 am

Another multimillion-rand botched-birth headache for health MEC

Ilse de Lange

The Gauteng health department had paid out more than R1bn to settle 185 medical negligence cases since 2015.

Yet another botched birth at a state hospital has cost the Gauteng health MEC more than R17.8 million.

In terms of a settlement reached in the High Court in Pretoria this week, the MEC agreed to compensate Bushbuckridge mother Rosalina Mucavele for the damages sustained by her son, Bennett, who suffers from severe cerebral palsy after botched treatment and a Caesarean section gone wrong at the Tambo Memorial Hospital in Boksburg six years ago.

The hospital claimed Mucavele was to blame for her son’s brain damage because of her alleged use of a toxic herbal medicine, Isihlambezo, but she denied using the medicine.

The court ruled in 2015 that the MEC was 100% liable for Bennett’s damages and that the hospital could not prove that the herbal medicine had caused the child’s brain damage.

Mucavele testified that she was made to wait for three hours without anyone attending to her at the hospital and she and the doctor could not communicate because they did not speak the same language.

A nurse later told her she could not give natural birth because she had taken traditional medicine and she had to go to theatre.

She could immediately see something was wrong with her baby after his birth as he showed no signs of life but no one wanted to tell her what was wrong.

The court accepted expert evidence that the admission process had taken too long, that the baby’s distress should have been picked up earlier and that a senior doctor should have been called in much earlier to do an emergency C-section.

The DA’s Jack Bloom said in May the Gauteng health department had paid out more than R1 billion to settle 185 medical negligence cases since January 2015, and that 51 more claims, totalling over R14.4 million, were pending.

He said brain-damaged babies made up 76% of the claims paid out, which amounted to R769 million for 50 claimants.

Most of the claims came from the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, followed by the Steve Biko Hospital.

The department’s annual report for 2016/17 set aside R13.4 billion for potential medical negligence claims. Bennett will need specialised medical treatment, therapy, equipment and full-time care for the rest of his life.