A former nursing sister who sustained irreversible brain damage after allegedly receiving incorrect treatment for an acute asthma attack at a private hospital in Middelburg, will be partially compensated in terms of a settlement reached in the High Court in Pretoria.
The Life Healthcare Group, which operates the Mid-Med Clinic in Middelburg, agreed to compensate former maternity ward nurse Mirri Bridger for 50% of the damages as she could prove these were a result of the treatment at the hospital in 2009.
But the group did not admit any liability. A civil trial to determine the amount to be paid was postponed indefinitely.
Bridger instituted a damages claim of over R2 million after being treated at the clinic for an acute asthma attack. She was intubated and put in an induced coma, but was placed on a ventilator a few days later after getting a lung infection.
According to court papers, Bridger’s husband repeatedly asked the doctors to perform a tracheotomy, to call in specialised physicians or pulmonary experts, or to transfer her to another hospital. They allegedly refused and continued the intubation for 22 days, even after her condition deteriorated dramatically.
Bridger was eventually transferred to a private hospital in Centurion, but had allegedly suffered irreversible brain damage because of the long period of intubation and alleged excessive doses of a drug which should not be prescribed to patients with chronic pulmonary conditions, including asthma.
She spent 35 days in intensive care and developed many ICU-related complications, including infections, severe muscle weakness and had epileptic fits.
One of the experts her lawyers consulted was of the view that Bridger had fallen to the ground due to a massive stroke, which might have been mistaken for an epileptic attack, but no medication was prescribed for the condition.
According to court papers, Bridger now battled to speak, could not function normally and would always need assistance when moving about or travelling.
She could also no longer enjoy the ordinary amenities of life such as working and having a healthy family and social life.