Doctor who lost his licence after 4 deaths may face further court action

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The loved ones of David Sello’s victims plan to take legal action against the Potchefstroom-based doctor after the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) revoked his medical licence in August. Health-e News reports Sello was found guilty of the deaths of three patients including a one-year-old girl, Mbali Matlo (Baby Mbali) whom Sello performed a skin graft on in his doctors’ rooms.

The report says the families are happy with the HPCSA’s decision and feel vindicated. However, some say that justice still needs to be served because the judgment is not from a court. Baby Mbali’s father Ntsikelelo Mthuzula says he’s planning to take the case further. “I am taking this to the next level, I am not letting him go free like that,” Mthuzula says. “I am going to sue him. He killed my daughter; my heart is still very painful.”

The report says the HPCSA says it’s not in a position to comment about further legal proceedings. Spokesperson Priscilla Sekhonyana explains: “In so far as cases that are investigated by the police, the courts or the laws of South Africa, the HPCSA does not have jurisdiction over such matters.” She adds: “The complaints which are lodged with the HPCSA are those which involve unethical conduct or unprofessional conduct of the (health) practitioners registered with the HPCSA. Those that are with the courts are those that involve criminal conduct on the part of individual citizens.”

The report says it is possible that Sello may face criminal charges for the three deaths that resulted from his negligence. In April, the Pretoria High Court confirmed the conviction and five-year jail sentence of Mpumalanga-based gynaecologist Danie van der Walt who caused the death of a woman in labour through negligence. In 2016, the HPCSA ordered van der Walt to pay a R10,000 admission of guilt fine. He plans to appeal the decision.

The report says at his final hearing, Sello’s wife disclosed to the HPCSA committee that her husband was once admitted to a psychiatric hospital. However, the organisation says it wasn’t aware of this at the time of his admission. The doctor who treated Sello, says Sekhonyane, was obliged to inform the HPCSA about his medical condition in terms of the institution’s ethical guidelines.

According to the HPCSA’s guidelines for good practice in the health care professions, students, interns and practitioners are obligated to report their own “impairment” or that of others to the council’s board if “they’re convinced that such student, intern or practitioner is impaired”. The guidelines define impairment as “a mental or physical condition which affects the competence, attitude, judgement or performance of professional acts by a registered practitioner”. “Once it has been reported, the healthcare practitioner will be subjected to the HPCSA Health Committee investigation,” Sekhonyane says.

The report says Sello’s wife confirmed that she was aware her husband was admitted at a psychiatric hospital in Potchefstroom. “I played a role because I was the one who forced him to seek help. I took him forcefully to the hospital,” she says. At the time she realised that he was “psychologically not fine” and he was transferred from a general hospital to a psychiatric facility. But he continued working after he was discharged from the hospital. She told the committee they weren’t aware they were supposed to report Sello’s condition or that he was admitted to a psychiatric (hospital).”

The report says Sello has 21 days to appeal the decision of the committee. His legal representative Raphepheng Mataka says he can’t comment on whether or not they will appeal the committee’s decision because he and nor his client have received the full judgment from the HPCSA.

The report says the HPCSA hasn’t indicated when the full judgement will be made public.

Health-e News report

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