NC Health facing R48.9m medical negligence suit

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MedicalThe Northern Cape Health Department is facing a R48.9m medical negligence lawsuit after a child was born with severe brain damage at Manne Dipico Hospital in Colesberg.

According to a Diamond Fields Advertiser report, the matter is before the Northern Cape High Court to discuss the merits of the case.

In court papers it was stated that the child’s mother, Nonceba Rozette Mbatiwe Matiso, went into labour on 17 June, 2014, where she was left in the maternity ward until 20 June, 2014, without undergoing any medical check-ups. On 20 June she felt severe contraction pains and she immediately called for medical assistance, but no one apparently attended to her.

An ambulance driver who was passing by heard her screaming and attended to her, following which a nursing sister, after conducting a physical examination, instructed the mother to sleep on her left-hand side with her legs closed, so that “her membranes could rupture”. Matiso’s attorney stated that two hours later the nurse ruptured Matiso’s membranes.

“At that moment, the head of the unborn baby was already exposed. The mother started pushing but the unborn baby was not coming out. This process continued until 11.55 am when a doctor arrived. After noticing that the baby was not coming out, the doctor instructed the sister to bring a vacuum so that he could extract the baby but was advised by the nurse that she was unable to locate the vacuum.”

The attorney stated that at 12.05pm on 20 June the doctor used forceps to deliver the baby, which was born with “severe penetrating wounds on the skull caused by the negligent use of the forceps”. Due to complications and the long delivery, the baby was “floppy at birth” and unable to cry or breastfeed. “The baby was only able to cry at about 4 pm on 20 June and he cried hysterically throughout the night.”

After being discharged from hospital on 21 June, while the baby continued to cry “hysterically”, the mother noticed that the baby was experiencing epileptic fits. The baby was taken back to the hospital in Colesberg for urgent medical assistance, where a doctor advised the mother that the baby was critically ill and could die at any time.

Due to the deteriorating condition of the baby, the doctor did not recommend that the baby be transferred to a private hospital in Bloemfontein, as the mother had wanted. He also informed her that they did not have a nurse who would be able to accompany them by ambulance to Bloemfontein.

After “a long period of negotiations” with hospital staff at Manne Dipico Hospital, they finally agreed to allow Matiso’s mother-in-law, who is a nurse by profession, to travel with the baby to Life Park Hospital in Bloemfontein. The baby remained at the hospital for one month and was diagnosed with permanent brain damage, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, delayed milestones and epilepsy, due to oxygen deprivation as well as prolonged delays in the delivery.

According to the report, the attorney indicated that the child would be dependent on lifelong specialised medical care, including treatment from a neurologist, neurosurgeon, radiologist, paediatrician, physiotherapist, dietician, social worker, caregivers, urologist, cardiologist, orthotist, mobility experts, occupational therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, architects.

It was pointed out that the mother would also incur medical costs for the management of her depression and medication and transport costs. She had to give up her studies and possible chances of employment in order to take full-time care of her child.

Diamond Fields Advertiser report

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