A 10-year-oldy boy whose left leg was amputated below the knee at Durban’s Mshiyeni Hospital when he was six years old because of medical negligence, can make a financial claim against the office of the MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal, the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled on Thursday.
The consent order means the matter will go to trial in March 2013 when the court will decide exactly how much the Health MEC must pay in damages to Minenhle Mkhize and his family.
The Health MEC is not contesting liability – all that has to be resolved is how much the child and his family will be paid out.
The mother, Thokozani Mkhize, is claiming R3.3 million in damages. The MEC for Health will contest this amount and is hoping to settle at a lower figure. The final figure will only be determined following the trial and might be much higher.
The boy, who lives in uMlazi, had his leg amputated in 2008. According to the particulars of the claim, Minenhle fell out of a tree and fractured his left ankle on April 29, 2008.
The next day he was taken to hospital where he was treated as an outpatient and a plaster cast was put below his knee, to include the foot.
His mother returned to the hospital the next two days with her child complaining he was still in severe pain but they were turned away, with medical staff saying that the pain was normal.
On May 5, when the pain continued, Mkhize took her son to the Malukazi Clinic in uMlazi for treatment. Medical staff there found everything in order and did not provide the child with any treatment.
Three days later, Minenhle was unable to move his toes and the skin on his left foot became dark. His mother took him to the same hospital and the cast was removed, said the claim.
Blisters were noticed on the boy’s left foot. The child was examined by a doctor and the mother was told that the blood supply to the left leg had been blocked and that an amputation was necessary.
On May 14, Minenhle’s left leg was amputated below the knee.
The claim said the clinic and hospital had failed to diagnose the onset of gangrene and failed to provide the child with proper medical treatment.
As a result, the child suffered shock and psychological distress by virtue of having his leg amputated.
He remains partially disabled, has to wear a prosthesis to assist with mobility and has been permanently disfigured. Also, he is unable to take part in recreational activity requiring any degree of mobility.