City gynaecologist cleared of medical negligence

2013-05-30 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG gynaecologist has been cleared of medical negligence by the Supreme Court of Appeal.

The SCA yesterday overturned an earlier judgment of the high court in Pietermaritzburg that found that specialist gynaecologist Dr Gabriel Buthelezi was negligent when he performed a total abdominal hysterectomy on a patient at a private hospital on February 13, 2006.

The patient subsequently experienced complications and had to undergo further surgery.

KZN deputy Judge President Achmat Jappie had ruled in a reserved judgment that the gynaecologist did not exercise the skill and care required of him during the course of the operation, and he was consequently found liable to pay his former patient damages, which had yet to be determined.

In yesterday’s judgment, the SCA said it was common cause that the patient’s problem — a hole in the bladder wall causing urine incontinence — had resulted from something that had happened during the hysterectomy operation.

The only issue was whether this was due to negligence on the part of the gynaecologist, and there was a difference of opinion between the expert witnesses who testified at the trial on that issue.

The expert called on behalf of the patient believed the doctor was negligent, while the expert called on behalf of the gynaecologist believed that he was not.

After analysing the underlying reasoning for the different opinions, the Appeal Cpourt held that the trial court had been wrong to find that negligence on Buthelezi’s part had been established and upheld the doctor’s appeal with costs.

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