Thursday, 20 June, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalBaragwanath maternity unit faces R1bn negligence claims

Baragwanath maternity unit faces R1bn negligence claims

The critically understaffed maternity unit at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital faces medical negligence claims totalling R1bn – 50 of them just in the past four years, for R992m – yet the Gauteng Health Department says “it has a low number of deaths and infections in the unit”.

Half of the negligence cases are for cerebral palsy in babies, with individual claims ranging from R10m to R51m, while there are claims for the deaths of five babies, requesting amounts ranging from R400 000 to R7m. The highest claim is R65m for alleged negligence in treating a pregnant woman, which resulted in womb infection, leading to an emergency hysterectomy and heart and kidney complications requiring dialysis.

Other claims include alleged negligence leading to removal of the womb, and cases of swabs left inside patients after surgery.

Lack of functioning equipment and staff shortages contribute to the litany of problems at the country’s busiest maternity unit, which delivers 20 000 babies a year.

Writing in Politicsweb, DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC Jack Bloom said according to the Health Department, there are 26 staff vacancies, four of the 12 sonar machines are broken, and two overhead warmers in the labour ward are not working.

Last month, the cooling unit for two operating theatres was broken for six days and patients were operated on in high temperatures, increasing infection risks. There was also an increased risk of hypothermia in newborn babies because of the non-functional overhead warmers.

The department has identified the need for three dedicated obstetric theatres for emergency Caesarean sections, the creation of more posts for all categories of staff including Advanced Midwives, and an increase in theatres from four to five.

Bloom said the tragedy “is that money spent on negligence cases could have been avoided if this busy maternity unit were properly staffed with adequate equipment”.

“No amount of money can compensate for loss of life and life-long injuries caused by negligence.”


Politicsweb article – Bara maternity faces R1bn negligence claims – Jack Bloom (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


State liable for child’s cerebral palsy after Bara birth 17 years ago


More resources needed to reduce Bara newborn deaths – DA


Gauteng’s negligent medical ‘professionals’ get off scot-free


Backlog of 7,000 surgery patients at Chris Hani Baragwanath




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