Doctor shot during robbery gets nod to sue colleague for amputation of his leg

Dr Abdus Patel instituted an R11.4 million claim against his colleagues for the amputation of his leg after he was shot during a robbery. Picture: File

Dr Abdus Patel instituted an R11.4 million claim against his colleagues for the amputation of his leg after he was shot during a robbery. Picture: File

Published Mar 14, 2023


Pretoria - A medical doctor who was shot during a robbery at his practice in Standerton, Mpumalanga, and had his one leg amputated will now be able to prove the damages he had suffered.

He got the go-ahead after one of the doctors “liable for the amputation” lost his appeal.

Dr Abdus Patel instituted an R11.4 million claim against his colleagues for the amputation of his leg.

He said if Dr Aboo Baker Joosub and Dr Frederick Louw had acted with haste after he was shot, he would have had his leg today.

The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, earlier found Patel’s colleagues could not be blamed and turned down the claim.

Patel subsequently appealed to a full Bench, which found Louw should be held accountable. Louw turned to the Supreme Court of Appeal, which turned down his appeal.

Patel was accosted by two men at his home surgery on August 7, 2009 during which he was robbed and shot in the left thigh.

The bullet shattered the femur into two pieces, transacted an artery and injured a vein.

Paramedics were called to his house and he was taken to the Standerton Hospital’s trauma unit. But while the paramedics were treating him at his house, Joosub heard of the shooting, as he was about to enter the mosque.

He rushed to Patel’s house and phoned the Standerton Hospital to alert them he was on his way.

Louw was on call at the time and promised to tend to Patel as soon as he was done with an appendectomy that was scheduled for later.

When Patel arrived at the hospital, Louw was not yet there and Joosub, who followed his friend to hospital in his car, phoned around to try to find another doctor who was recommended by Patel.

But while on the phone, Louw walked in and examined Patel. He found there was a possibility of a vascular injury, which could not be treated at the Standerton Hospital.

Louw sent Patel for X-rays and then attended to the scheduled appendectomy, for which he was running late.

Louw decided to transfer Patel to the Pretoria East Hospital and he phoned another colleague, an orthopaedic expert there to take care of Patel when he arrived.

Apparently, the Pretoria East Hospital was not equipped to deal with this type of injury.

Patel was meanwhile rushed by ambulance to this hospital. Two hours later he arrived there, but then had to be transported to the Pretoria Heart Hospital.

By this time the lack of blood and oxygen to his leg led to it having to be amputated.

Patel said his colleagues were negligent, as they should have transferred him to a facility with vascular facilities, and should have ordered his transfer to Pretoria via helicopter.

The delay caused blood flow problems which in turn necessitated his leg being amputated, he said.

Patel initially also instituted a claim for damages against the Mpumalanga MEC for health, which he said failed to render hospital and nursing services of a standard reasonably expected of a hospital of the size and location of Standerton Hospital.

The claim against the MEC was later withdrawn.

The trial court dismissed the claim in respect of both doctors, having found no causal link between their negligence and the harm suffered by Patel, which resulted in his lower left leg being amputated.

But the full court, on appeal, found Louw had failed to transfer Patel to definitive care with the necessary urgency, which led to the amputation of his lower left leg. It accordingly found a causal link between the negligence and the resultant harm.

On appeal in the Supreme Court of Appeal, Louw held he was not at fault as he did all he could under the circumstances.

The finding of the full Bench of judges earlier that Louw be held liable for the damages was based on an acceptance of the evidence of an expert that the leg would almost certainly have been salvaged if blood flow was restored within four hours of the injury, as opposed to the nine hours and 30 minutes that it took.

The Supreme Court, in turning down Louw’s appeal, agreed with this finding. The amount of damages payable to Patel is to be determined later.

Pretoria News