Pretoria - An elderly Villieria woman who went into theatre for a lower back procedure but fell, or slipped, off the operating table while under anaesthetic and injured the vertebrae in her neck is claiming more than R1 million in damages from the hospital and the specialists who were present in theatre on that day.

Maria Roelofse, 92, who was aged 87 at the time, fell from the bed after it apparently tilted on November 5, 2004.

She stated in papers before the Pretoria High Court that her misfortune was due to the negligence of either the staff at Pretoria Moot Hospital, the orthopaedic surgeon, the anaesthetist or the radiologist, or due to the combined negligence of all these parties.

Roelofse stated that she was admitted to the hospital at the end of October 2004 due to lower back pain. A few days later she re-ceived treatment for this under local anaesthetic.

The bed on which she was lying tilted suddenly and she fell off, hurting her C2 vertebrae in the process.

She blamed this on the staff and the specialists, who she said should have ensured that she was secure on the operation table and that she could not fall off it.

Roelofse said the specialists and the staff had a duty to ensure her safety during the operation, and they should have seen to it that she was either firmly held on the bed by the staff or secured to the bed by other means.

She added that as a result of the injury to her neck, she had to receive further treatment, as well as undergoing another operation.

According to her, she now has severe neck and shoulder pain, and her arms and legs are weaker.

She stated that for all practical considerations, she was now an invalid due to the severe pain and weakness she is experiencing.

The damages she is claiming includes R240 000 to pay for a permanent helper to assist her on a daily basis, as well as R500 000 for the “loss of life’s amenities which an elderly woman of [my] age can enjoy”.

Roelofse said her neck and other ailments (because of the fall) were permanent and would continue for the rest of her life, and she wouldn’t be able to perform everyday tasks.

While the hospital and the specialists acknowledged that Roelofse fell off the bed, they deny liability, or that it was due to any fault of theirs.

Judge George Webster ordered Roelofse to provide certain answers to Netcare Pretoria One Ltd, the company which owns the hospital.

Pretoria News