Govt must pay over baby

2009-08-10 00:00

BUT for the negligence of doctors and staff at Addington Hospital, a Down Syndrome baby would not have been born to a Clare Estate couple, Jayanthie and Kishore Sonny, in 2002.

This is the finding of KZN deputy judge president Phillip Levinsohn, who ruled in a reserved judgment handed down on Friday that the premier of KZN is liable to pay damages to the couple. The amount to which they will be entitled has still to be determined.

In his judgment Levinsohn said that staff at the Clare Estate clinic where Jayanthie Sonny was monitored through her pregnancy were also “grossly negligent”.

He said it was not surprising therefore that during the course of the trial eThekwini Municipality (under whose control the clinic falls) was advised to reach a compromise. A settlement was reached in terms of which the municipality agreed that it is 33,3% liable for the couple’s proven damages.

The Sonnys’ initial claim was for more than R6 million.

Evidence revealed that Jayanthie Sonny was 36 years old, had a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure and was a “high risk patient” at the time she fell pregnant.

The judge ruled that a doctor who carried out an initial scan at Addington Hospital in June 2002, ought to have given written instructions to Clare Estate clinic making it absolutely clear that Sonny had to return for a second scan urgently.

According to her, she was never told anything might be wrong with the baby, although she was told to return in two weeks for another scan.

A nurse at the clinic subsequently advised her that everything was in order with her ultrasound and on her advice she did not return. The first indication that the baby might have Down Syndrome was in late October when she was almost full term.

Levinsohn found that a reasonable doctor would have foreseen the possibility of a person “falling through the cracks” and not returning to the hospital, and said he/she had a duty to properly inform and counsel Sonny, and also to advise the clinic of the risks and urgency of another scan.

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