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HomeMedico-LegalEastern Cape paid R3.4bn in hysterectomy malpractice claims since 2014

Eastern Cape paid R3.4bn in hysterectomy malpractice claims since 2014

Hysterectomy malpractice lawsuits are commonplace in South Africa, particularly in the Eastern Cape, which since 2014, has coughed up some R3.4bn in lawsuit settlements for medical malpractice at its 91 hospitals and more than 700 clinics.

Kirstie Haslam, a partner at DSC Attorneys, said the province has consistently been the target of these types of suits, a current example being a woman who is suing the Department of Health for R3m, accusing doctors of having removed her uterus without her permission.

In a hysterectomy, a portion or all of the uterus is surgically removed, and the surgery, like any other procedure, is not without its risks, including bladder injury, urethral damage, mechanical bowel blockage, bowel or small intestine perforation, vaginal vault granulation and post-operative infections.

Haslam said failing to get the patient’s informed consent or failing to disclose all relevant hazards to them could potentially give rise to a claim, as could an incorrect diagnosis or an unnecessary or incorrect operation.

In another case, a women who was trying to fall pregnant learned that after a Caesarean section delivery years previously, she had received an unapproved hysterectomy. When she had given birth to her daughter at the age of 17, she was unaware her uterus had been removed.

IOL reports that a doctor confirmed the hysterectomy, but asserted that the teenager had given her consent to have her uterus removed.

The doctor said the girl’s mother had signed her consent, but this was also refuted. Consequently, the Health Department is now being sued.

In another case, a 48-year-old woman was left with persistent discomfort after a white plastic object was left in her abdomen during a hysterectomy in 2013, and the Health Department had to pay her more than R900 000.


IOL article – Why are hysterectomy malpractice claims so prevalent in Eastern Cape? (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Eastern Cape’s plan to turn tidal wave of negligence claims


Medical malpractice courts proposed to tackle soaring claims


Determining damages in medical malpractice claims



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