Free State Health called out by High Court for pursuing unwinnable case

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Free State Health was more than willing to admit that a woman with appendicitis was left with a chunk of infected appendix inside her after surgery performed by its doctors, but still refused to pay her damages. A Times Select report says the Free State High Court (Bloemfontein) has now intervened, calling out the department for pursuing a case it could not win. Because of this, the department has been ordered to compensate the patient in the amount of R425,000 – plus her legal costs.

According to Judge Soma Naidoo, the woman had already been fighting against the health MEC and the department since the botched surgery in September 2012. After the initial procedure, she was discharged from the hospital, but two days later she had to be re-admitted to another hospital where she had yet another appendectomy and cleansing, because a piece of her appendix had been left inside her and her wound was found to be leaking pus. The judge was concerned the department did not call the surgical team to testify. Nor did the department provide any evidence why it believed it should not have conducted a full appendectomy.

“The conduct of the defendants in this matter was in direct contrast to what is expected of officials of a public entity entrusted to act at all times in the interest of the public it serves. The defendants proceeded headlong with litigation they must have known had a strong possibility of being unsuccessful,” she added. She ordered the MEC and department to pay the costs of the case, as well as the agreed-upon amount of the woman’s damages within the next 60 days – or face paying interest on the amount.

Full Times Select report (subscription needed)


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