Gauteng malpractice claims top R573m
Johannesburg - The Gauteng health department needs to dramatically improve health standards in the face of malpractice claims totalling R573m, the DA said on Monday.
"Medical-legal claims by aggrieved patients already amount to R573m according to the Gauteng Health Department's 2009/10 Annual Report," said Democratic Alliance provincial health spokesperson Jack Bloom.
"At the centre of it all is management issues... the department needs to monitor risk factors like overcrowding and lack of resources in order to avoid future claims arising from hospital negligence," Bloom said.
He referred to a court decision in February to award Martha and Simon Khanyi almost R18m after their son was permanently brain damaged at a hospital.
He said that according to court papers, the Pholosong Hospital on the East Rand failed to perform a caesarean section when Prince Sibusiso Khanyi was born there in December 1999.
A lack of oxygen led to his brain damage.
"This high amount awarded is an important precedent that will lead to many more malpractice claims," said Bloom.
"What we are seeing is a trend where courts are awarding high settlements... in the past the expense of the cases was a deterrent, but now lawyers will make contingency plans," he said.
Gauteng health spokesperson Simon Zwane could not confirm the monetary amount for malpractice claims in the last year, but said "no drama was taking place" with regards to medical negligence.
Quality assurance team
"There is no truth to the increase in medical cases... it could be that people are claiming for more money," he said.
"Where people do succeed in their claims, it is not for the full amount they ask for," he said.
"We worry every time something goes wrong with a patient, but have put in place a quality assurance team that investigates cases and adverse events."
"There is not a single theme that you could single out [for cases of medical negligence]. It could involve babies, incidents during childbirth that put baby and mother at risk, or something like orthopaedics... often it is a combination of factors."
Zwane said measures were being constantly put in place by the department to avoid repeat negligence cases.