The Western Cape High Court. Picture: Laille Jack / African News Agency (ANA) Archives
The Western Cape High Court. Picture: Laille Jack / African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Judge rules against Western Cape government in medical negligence case

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Oct 15, 2021

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Cape Town - The Western Cape government has lost a case in which a mother had sued for damages in a medical negligence case involving her child who was born at the Mowbray Maternity Hospital in Cape Town in 2006 with cerebral palsy.

Western Cape High Court Judge Patrick Gamble found that the woman, whose name was only given as K to protect her privacy and that of the child, had established that her child’s medical condition was caused by the negligent treatment she received at the hands of the provincial health department’s employees.

The woman, now 36, had sued the Office of the Province’s Health MEC and Judge Gamble found the MEC liable for damages in respect of her personal claim, as well as her claim on behalf of the child, X.

Judge Gamble said: “I should point out, for the assistance of the parties that I would consider it appropriate for a curator bonis (person appointed by a court to manage the finances, property, or estate of another person) to be appointed to manage the award ultimately made in this matter, as it is likely to be considerable and the plaintiff’s ability to manage such a sum of money might be limited.

The court was told that K was aged 21 when she had her second child. During the course of her second pregnancy, the plaintiff visited her local antenatal clinic in Khayelitsha, the Khayelitsha Midwife and Obstetric Unit.

The court heard that only if a mother’s condition is problematic and demands a higher level of medical care and intervention, would she be referred to the Mowbray Maternity Hospital.

K went to the midwife and obstetric unit at 8am in the early stages of labour and stayed there where she was seen by nursing staff from time to time until after midnight when they took her to Mowbray hospital for an emergency C-section

Judge Gamble said the child’s medical condition was not attributable to the negligence of any of the staff at Mowbray hospital and that the focus of the case was on K’s treatment by the province’s nursing staff throughout her pregnancy at the midwife and obstetric Unit, from April 20, 2006, when she visited the clinic for the first time, and when the child was born.

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