Monday, 15 April, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalGauteng Health guilty of negligence over baby's foot deformity

Gauteng Health guilty of negligence over baby's foot deformity

The parents of a now 12-year-old – whose foot was severely deformed after a drip inserted into the limb was left unchecked for 10 hours after birth – have succeeded in their claim against the Gauteng MEC.

The Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) found that the staff at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital were negligent for not checking the drip, and that the health authority must pay for damages that can be proven.

If the parties fail to settle on the amount, the matter will be back in court at a later stage to hear the evidence of the parents and experts regarding the scale of damages, reports The Star.

The baby was born prematurely with an extremely low birth weight, and had to be fed intravenously. Her right foot was damaged when the intravenous line went into the tissue and it necrosed, leaving the child with a permanent injury. She now suffers from a severe and debilitating deformity and it is projected that she will need treatment in the future.

The parents said the nurses and doctors who treated their daughter owed a duty of care towards her, to ensure treatment met the standard reasonably expected of a provincial hospital caring for prematurely born neonates.

In their opinion this was not done, as the drop had been unchecked for 10 hours.

However, the staff denied negligence, and said that extravasation of intravenous lines in neonates was fairly common because of their small blood vessels, and absent soft tissue support.

While they admitted the child had suffered permanent injuries, they argued that such injuries did not flow from their negligence but from the well-known risk posed by intravenous lines.

The parents accepted the staff’s argument that to keep the baby alive, and given her extremely low birth weight, she had to be fed intravenously. Their complaint was that the drip was never checked for 10 hours.

Hospital records showed that on at least six occasions previously, the drip fluid had leaked. Each time, staff staff had intervened timeously and changed the drip to an alternative site.

On the night in question, the records showed that the drip site was last monitored at 21h00. It was again checked the next morning at 07h00.

Thus, for 10 hours, it was not monitored. When the nurses checked in the morning, they found that the baby’s foot had turned black.

Two medical experts agreed that the injuries were caused by the substandard treatment administered by the hospital staff.

Judge Noluntu Bam concluded that the care afforded to the baby was indeed substandard and was the cause of her injuries.


The Star PressReader article –  Hospital negligent in treating baby (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Gauteng Health 100% liable in R30m negligence claim, judge rules


‘Dysfunctional and an embarrassment’ – outgoing Ombudsman on health departments


Serious adverse event stats keep climbing in Gauteng government hospitals


Post-death negligence award ‘exposes Gauteng Health to increased liability’






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