Pretoria - A mother is claiming more than R27 million in damages from the Gauteng Department of Health after her child was born nearly 13 years ago with permanent brain damage at a hospital in Gauteng.
The mother was at first taken to the Lenasia Clinic in June 2011 after she started having labour contractions, from where she was taken to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital by ambulance.
She told the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, that the labour was slow at the clinic, and that a decision was made to have her transferred.
There were unsuccessful attempts to deliver the baby by means of a vacuum extraction or ventouse delivery.
She was taken to the theatre for an emergency Caesarean section after midnight – several hours after her labour contractions started.
The baby was born with brain damage due to a lack of oxygen, and suffers from cerebral palsy.
The mother blamed the nurses and doctors who were supposed to attend to her at the hospital, as she said they had dragged their feet in assisting her and they, according to her, failed to monitor her and her unborn baby.
The first-time mother testified that when she eventually arrived at the hospital, she sat on a bench inside the examination room until her water broke and the nurse transferred her to a delivery room.
At the delivery room a male doctor examined her and remarked that she had not progressed to where she was supposed to be.
She overheard a discussion regarding administering medication to speed up the labour, which was administered through a drip.
The doctor examined her again and made a remark about “not yet” and left the room.
After a while he returned in the company of a woman doctor.
The male doctor then left the room leaving the female doctor who told her that it was time to push.
She testified that she asked the woman doctor about her options, and the doctor remarked that first-time moms were not allowed to deliver by Caesarean section.
The doctor made her push but the baby would not come. The doctor told her to keep pushing as the baby’s head was visible, and took her hand to feel the baby’s head. She attempted to get the baby out but failed.
The female doctor left the room and returned with the male doctor, where a decision was taken to perform an emergency Caesarean section.
On hearing the decision, she started to cry and panic, but tried to compose herself in order not to affect the baby.
She noticed on the monitor that the baby’s heart rate was dropping. She was given documents to sign and was advised that the theatre was full.
After a while she was taken to the theatre, and felt the baby’s head being pushed back inside her. After the Caesarean section was completed, she noticed that the baby was not breathing.
A doctor who testified said it was a miracle that the baby had survived, as he should have been dead under these circumstances.
He said a Caesarean section should have been done within an hour or two when the mother arrived at the hospital, and not several hours later.
The nursing staff denied any negligence or liability for the child’s condition, and at first blamed the mother, as she smoked prior to being pregnant.
The court concluded that the lack of monitoring the mother resulted in the baby’s brain damage and said the mother had received substantial care.
The Gauteng health authority was held 100% liable for the damages the mother can prove she had suffered.
The amount to be awarded will be determined at a later stage.