MEC sued for ‘botched’ appendix op

2009-11-11 00:00

A CIVIL trial in which a businessman, Mlomizayonke Gabela, is suing the KwaZulu Natal MEC for Health and the medical doctor who allegedly performed a botched appendicectomy on him at Vryheid Provincial Hospital on August 18, 1998, has been set down for hearing in the high court in Pietermaritzburg between April 19 and April 23 next year.

Judge Achmat Jappie ordered the province to pay the wasted costs of adjourning the case on Monday.

Gabela claims in court documents that the MEC in his capacity as the employer of staff at the Vryheid hospital breached the contractual relationship that existed between them and alleges that general practitioner David Nel, who performed his operation, and nursing staff were negligent and failed to treat him with “due and proper care and skill”.

Gabela alleges that Nel failed to remove his appendix; that he perforated the appendix during the operation and that he and/or other staff members failed to clean and disinfect the operation wound. As a consequence of these and other alleged breaches of care, Gabela alleges, his appendix became septic; that the operation wound became infected and septic, that he was hospitalised at Vryheid for six days as a result, and was compelled to submit himself at Glynnwood Hospital in Benoni between August 25 to August 31, 1998, for treatment of sepsis.

He alleges that on September 8 that year it was discovered that his appendix was not removed during the operation performed by Nel, and he was compelled to undergo a second operation at Glynnwood hospital during which his appendix was removed. He was in hospital from September 8 to September 23 as a result of the second operation.

Gabela is claiming damages totalling R193 854.

The MEC for Health and Nel are defending the claim and deny the allegations that the doctor or staff were negligent in their treatment of Gabela or that his wound became septic as a result of any breach by the hospital staff.

Nel denies that he failed to remove Gabela’s appendix, and according to court papers evidence is to be led in the trial about a so-called “double appendix syndrome”.

It is alleged there is a possibility of a person having two appendices and that during the first operation only one (the distal appendix) was removed through no fault of the doctor who performed the surgery.

According to court documents, Nel claims the appendix was already very septic when he performed the operation; that on admission to Vryheid hospital Gabela was found to be overweight and a diabetic and had a history of hypertension.

Gabela also allegedly discharged himself from the hospital on August 24, 1998, against medical advice, and left the hospital “entirely at his own risk”.

It is alleged that Gabela chose to discharge himself from Vryheid provincial hospital and admitted himself to Glynnwood hospital because he wished to be closer to his home in Benoni.

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