Soldier claims R2.1m for facial paralysis after 1 Military Hospital operation

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SoldierHospitalA SA National Defence Force soldier is claiming R2.1m for partial facial paralysis, blaming the staff and doctors at 1 Military Hospital.

A soldier from Potchefstroom is battling to close one of her eyes after an operation went wrong during treatment which started off when a moth flew into one of her ears. The moth was removed by a doctor but her ear became infected, which led to her face becoming paralysed.

According to a Pretoria News report, Mareke Mokhothu, turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to claim R2.1m in damages from the minister of defence following her ordeal. She is blaming her health problems on the staff and doctors at 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane, which falls under the Defence Ministry.

The report says the staff at the hospital have denied any responsibility for Mokhothu’s partially paralysed face, saying they had not been negligent in their treatment of her. The court, however, found that the minister was 100% liable for the damages Mokhothu can prove she had suffered due to the complications of her treatment.

According to medical reports, a moth flew into the woman’s ear in 2005 and a doctor took it out. But over the years her ear became painful and started swelling, and she went back to the doctor. In 2010 she went to 1 Military Hospital where she consulted a doctor for the swelling in her face. The doctor told her she had to undergo surgery to remove a gland which had developed in her face. The operation was performed, but a nerve was damaged on the left side of her face. Mokhothu was thereafter referred for reconstructive surgery during which a nerve transplant was performed.

The report said medical experts described her condition as a left motor-neuron facial paralysis due to damage to the facial nerve. They said this condition should be regarded as being permanent. Mokhothu blamed medical staff for her problem, and said that as it was a delicate operation, they should have taken extra care not to damage her facial nerves during surgery. She said she should have been informed about the risks associated with the operation prior to the procedure.

The report said Mokhothu’s claim includes R500,000 in damages for the pain and suffering she had and continue to endure. The bulk of her claim is for past and future loss of earnings as she had to take a lot of time off from working for the defence force.

The report said while the court found that the minister was liable for her damages, some of the experts were of the opinion that the doctors had no choice but to remove the gland from her face. They said due to the immense size of the gland, it would have in all probability become malignant, which would have led to her death.

Pretoria News report

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