Limpopo's health department faces medical negligence claims in excess of R14 billion

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Limpopo is facing numerous medical negligence claims.
Limpopo is facing numerous medical negligence claims.
  • Limpopo's health department is facing over R14 billion in medical negligence claims.
  • The Vhembe district has the highest number of medical negligence cases.
  • The department's spokesperson says some of the cases are not genuine.

The Department of Health in Limpopo is faced with contingent liabilities of over R14 billion as a result of apparent medical negligence by staff at various facilities across the province. 

The Vhembe district has the highest number of medical negligence cases, which currently stand at 500.

Its two largest hospitals  - Tshilidzini and Donald Fraser - contributed largely to the negligence cases, with a total of R2.497 billion in claims.

Capricorn district has 330 claims, amounting to R2.356 billion, followed by Mopani with 322 cases, at R2.683 billion, Sekhukhune with 305 cases, at R3.006 billion, and Waterberg with 118 cases, at R76.053 million.

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But the department's spokesperson, Neil Shikwambana, said some of the medical negligent cases were not genuine, "but brought in by unscrupulous individuals for money purposes". 

He said some of the cases would be defended.

"Secondly, from experience, we know that most of these figures are highly inflated by lawyers, that even when the department fails to defend certain cases, it still pays far less than what was claimed.

"The department, of course, continues to work on the strengthening of quality of care and also to defend the cases, especially those which aren't genuine cases of negligence, but brought in by some unscrupulous individuals for money purposes," Shikwambana said.

The DA in Limpopo described the escalating medical negligence cases as a "crisis ", which could cripple the health department.

The DA's Risham Maharaj said neither the department nor the provincial administration had a budget to settle the cases - if judgment was not in its favour in court.

Maharaj said the root cause of the high rate of litigation included critical staff shortage and equipment, lack of professionalism, incompetence, lost records and missed diagnosis.

"The rising amount of claims in Limpopo shows that hospital conditions are not improving and are offering sub-standard services to the people of Limpopo. 

"The failure by the Limpopo MEC for Health, Phophi Ramathuba, and the department to address litigation claims will result in the deterioration and further reduction of care in our healthcare system," Maharaj said.

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