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Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Health has to fork out R15 million to an Edenvale family following a medical negligence lawsuit claimed against one of its hospitals.
Johannesburg High Court Judge Rami Mathopo confirmed an out-of-court settlement between Johan and Jacolenne Fourie and the department relating to a claim that Jacolenne, during 15 excruciating hours of a traumatic labour in 2006, was neglected by hospital staff resulting in her baby boy being born brain-damaged.
It all began on June 7, 2006, when Jacolenne was admitted to the Edenvale Hospital in Ekurhuleni after her waters had broken.
The following day, at 3am, her first contractions started - but for at least 15 hours, from 3am until 6pm, she was neither examined nor monitored by any of the hospital’s staff.
The couple’s son, Seth, was born at about 7.30pm. His Apgar score (a simple and repeatable method to quickly assess the health of a newborn) was four out of 10 - much lower than the seven and above scores that are considered normal.
Seth had to be resuscitated and post-natally, he had to be put on ventilators and ICU as he had several seizures and fitting episodes.
Dr Thomas Wessels, a paediatrician, later diagnosed that Seth had cerebral palsy caused by asphyxia (lack of oxygen supply to the body) in the last hours of labour.
The young boy will turn seven in June, but is still unable to sit independently, crawl or walk.
Fourie and her husband had taken the Gauteng premier - as the custodian of the hospital and department - to court in 2009 and now, four years later, finally have a resolution on the matter.
“It has been a long process, but it’s been worth the wait. We’re so very happy it has come to an end. We explained the process as much as we could to Seth and he’s doing well. Our main goal now is to help him walk - that’s all he wants,” she said.
The couple will be using the money - which will be put in a trust for Seth - to buy the equipment and get the therapy he needs to help him walk.
“Now we’ll be able to get him a suit-like support for his stomach to help his posture and strengthen his stomach muscles and orthopaedic boots to help his stability and see if he can have a normal life,” she added excitedly.
Steven Flowers, a director at the law firm representing the couple, said he felt it was a good settlement for the family and was the money they deserved as it would cover Seth’s future medical and living costs.
Spokesman for the Department of Health, Simon Zwane, said: “The department is awaiting a court order stipulating when to pay.
Our commitment is to pay the money into the trust fund of the attorneys within 30 days of receiving the court order. The department regrets the incident and we have since put measures in place to prevent similar incidents.”
The premier’s office did not respond by the time of going to print.