KZN Health forks out for negligence

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justice scales and books Clyde Robinson

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Durban - The mother of 4-year-old Nomfundo Skhosana of Inanda, who was born with irreversible brain damage as a result of medical negligence, has received an interim payment from the Department of Health.

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Jerome Mnguni granted an order on Thursday directing the MEC for Health in KwaZulu-Natal to pay R163 172 in respect of medical expenses, builder’s expenses and driver’s expenses to Nomfundo’s mother, Bonakele Skhosana.

Nomfundo was born mentally and physically handicapped, is blind, partially deaf and will remain dependent on others for the rest of her life.

Skhosana, 24, sued the MEC for Health in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for R9.8 million, claiming that Nomfundo’s condition was due to medical negligence at the Newtown C Clinic and Mahatma Gandhi Hospital.

The department conceded liability in February this year, agreeing to pay 90 percent of the total proven damages, which will be determined after further court action next year.

The order granted on Thursday is in relation to expenses Skhosana has incurred renovating her home to accommodate Nomfundo’s condition as well as driving the child to and from hospital for treatment and therapy.

Skhosana was admitted to the Newtown C Clinic on December 12, 2009.

She was later transferred to Mahatma Gandhi Hospital.

Skhosana claims the clinic and hospital staff failed to adequately monitor the maternal and foetal conditions during the latent phase of labour, or to monitor her elevated high blood pressure.

Skhosana said as a result of life-threatening complications, she suffered a seizure and the staff failed to diagnose that the baby’s heart rate had decreased and that it’s health had been compromised.

This, she said, resulted in Nomfundo’s condition.

Nomfundo visits a speech therapist twice weekly, and an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist once a week.

In a separate case, Judge Jerome Mnguni granted an order directing the MEC for Health in KZN to make an interim payment of R67 714 to Ntombenhle Mkhize, the mother of Thabiso Thwala, 4, who was also born mentally and physically handicapped, with irreversible brain damage, and is blind and partially deaf.

This payment is in respect of past medical, therapy and caregiver expenses.

Mkhize, of Osizweni, Newcastle, was admitted to Utrecht Clinic on August 12, 2009 to give birth and was transferred to Madadeni Hospital two days later. Thabiso was born on August 15.

According to Mkhize, she had a prolonged labour, and after Thabiso was finally delivered, by natural birth, he had to be resuscitated for 15 minutes by the attending doctor.

Mkhize claims the staff failed to arrange for a Caesarean-section delivery despite its being clear she was in a prolonged first stage of labour.

“Staff failed to recognise that the baby was in distress,” Mkhize claims in court papers, which resulted in Thabiso’s condition.

She has sued the department of health for R18.8m.

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