Neglect at birth: Health Dept to pay

2014-06-19 00:00

THE KZN health Department must pay damages after a baby girl suffering from Cerebral Palsy will be disabled for life due to the negligence of doctors and nurses at her birth.

The Pietermaritzburg high court made the order yesterday.

The child was born at the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital at Nquthu (northern KZN). The mother of the child, Njabulo Madonsela — who lives in Nelspruit — originally sued KZN’s health MEC for R15 833 063 on behalf of her daughter, Sethabile Matyana, but the amount of damages she will ultimately be entitled to will only be decided at future legal proceedings.

In terms of the court order by Judge Gregory Kruger, Madonsela (and her child) will receive whatever damages she proves she suffered, or a sum which is agreed on by the parties.

According to the court papers, baby Sethabile was born on April 16, 2005 after a prolonged labour and doctors and nurses who attended to Madonsela ignored her complaints about pain, and warning signs indicative of complications.

They failed to perform a caesarean section or expedite the birth when it was reasonably expected that these options could and should have been done.

The papers state that the staff at the hospital also breached their duty of care towards Madonsela by failing to monitor and properly record the progress of her labour and react to complications that were presenting and which indicated the foetus was distressed.

According to a report by a medical expert, Madonsela was a first-time mother, was 27 years old and the foetus was 37 weeks old when she gave birth.

She had been attending a clinic in Newcastle regularly prior to the birth.

She admitted herself to the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital on April 14 for an elective induction, as she was advised to do. However, the induction was only done at 6 am the following day. She experienced pain and told nurses and a doctor, who saw her on that day, about it.

In the late afternoon a nurse who checked her allegedly told her she was not dilating but advised her to “be patient”.

Her membranes had ruptured at about 4 am on April 16. She was thereafter taken to another room and left there. She eventually gave birth at 10.20 am that day.

She reported that the baby did not cry and was immediately placed into high care. After 10 days the baby was discharged from hospital but she was not informed that the child had any specific conditions.

As a result of the negligence of the hospital staff baby Sethabile was subsequently found to be suffering from Cerebral Palsy.

She is permanently disabled, will be unable to care for herself from day to day, or participate in physical, leisure or recreational activities. She will also be unable to work or pursue a career, and will always require a part-time caregiver to help with her daily needs, including feeding.

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