Special directorate will examine every KZN medical negligence claim

Organisation: Position: Deadline Date: Location:

Officials from KZN Health, which faces about R20bn in negligence claims against a total annual budget of R45bn, have briefed the Health Portfolio Committee on the medico-legal crisis it faces.

A multimillion-rand lawsuit against a hospital has laid bare the crisis faced by KwaZulu-Natal Health over medical negligence claims that have gone through the roof, says a report in The Mercury. Greytown Hospital senior management told members of the Health Portfolio Committee that they recently paid R11m in a medical negligence claim as compensation to a patient after a botched medical procedure.

As part of efforts to reduce medico-legal bills, the department has announced that it is establishing a directorate to be responsible for investigating every potential claim, and each medico-legal claim that was lodged against it. The committee members toured the province last month to assess the state of healthcare facilities.

The report says the office of the auditor-general confirmed last month that the department, which had a budget of R45bn, was facing about R20bn in lawsuits.

The department said the increase in medico-legal claims was a global phenomenon that remained a serious concern, as it put severe pressure on its already inadequate budget. “During the 2018/2019 financial year, a total of 450 new medico-legal claims were received, which increased the total number of medico-legal cases to above 2600.”

The department is quoted in the report as saying it was in the process of establishing a panel of lawyers who were going to represent the department in court.

The Mercury report (subscription needed)

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