R8m suit after death of Durban teen

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The family of a 19-year-old Durban girl who died at St Augustine's Hospital, allegedly from medical negligence, is suing the hospital for R8m for the suffering she endured prior to her death. According to a Sunday Tribune report, a High Court application has been brought against the hospital, and two doctors, Dr Sudarshan Naidoo and Dr Bala Govender.

The deceased, Jadene Naidoo, was involved in a car accident on 9 September. She sustained minor injuries but was admitted to the hospital’s ICU for treatment and observation. Her parents, Trevor and Pathmavathy Naidoo, said she complained of severe abdominal pain. But despite this, she responded well and doctors assured them she was in good health and recovering well.

"She had minor injuries to her face and underwent surgery. On the same day, she was certified fit by the doctors to be transferred to a surgical ward. This is where the challenges started to unfold when she was neglected by doctors and nursing staff. She was not taken seriously when she complained of the severity of her abdominal pain. She would activate the buzzer frequently for assistance and the response was far delayed and often ignored. When we visited her, she complained profusely and cried with pain," her father Trevor Naidoo was quoted in the report as saying.

He said that they took the word of the doctors, encouraged their daughter to be strong, and asked nurses to give her pain medication. "She was force-fed by the staff despite screaming with pain. On the doctor’s next visit he maintained there were no issues with her abdomen and he insisted she get up and walk. She was still in severe pain and we couldn’t stand to see her that way."

The family insisted that the surgeon should be changed. "They promised but they didn't. The next day the same doctors arrived to assess my child. They again maintained she was okay. They stressed her by telling her to stop whining and start walking."

Hours later, the Naidoos were told Jadene was critical and needed surgery. They said she would be put into a medically-induced coma so they could investigate the cause of the pain. The parents were devastated after they met the team of doctors after their daughter's surgery. They were told Jadene’s small bowel had ruptured and toxins had entered her body. She remained in ICU on a ventilator fully sedated while doctors tried in vain to save her from the rising toxin level in her body. Different doctors were brought in, but the family claims it was too late.

The report says the family is claiming R8m for funeral expenses, medical costs, counselling, therapy and loss of support. Dr Augusta Dorning, GM of St Augustine’s, said the hospital regretted the passing of Jadene Naidoo. "We wish to convey our sincere condolences to her family and loved ones. As this is a legal matter, we are not in a position to comment further."

Full Sunday Tribune report

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