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HomeMedico-LegalKZN doctor negligent, liable for brain damage of man with overdose history

KZN doctor negligent, liable for brain damage of man with overdose history

A KwaZulu-Natal doctor has been found liable for the brain injury of a patient admitted to the emergency unit of Life Westville Hospital eight years ago.

The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) found that Dr Sudhir Mohun was negligent when he left the patient in the nursing staff’s care without adequately instructing them.

The man, who was 43 at the time, was admitted by his wife after reportedly consuming alcohol and an unknown quantity of tablets, reports News24. Later that evening, the patient became hypoxic and suffered from cardiac arrest, leading to permanent brain damage.

Mohun was filling in for Doctors G Sanpersad, R Maharaj & Associates, a medical practice which provided clinical care in the emergency unit in terms of an agreement with the hospital.

The appeal court found the evidence of Professor André Retief Coetzee, a specialist anaesthetist for cardiac and pulmonary procedures, was “cogent, clear and founded on logical reasoning”.

Mohun agreed with Coetzee that, if the hypoxia had been reacted to timeously, the cardiac arrest would probably not have occurred, and the man would not have suffered brain damage. He also conceded that if he had checked on the man after 9.35pm and up until 10pm, he would have been able to prevent the brain damage.

The court found the man’s history of overdosing on alcohol and pills should have caused a reasonable medical practitioner in Mohun’s position to expect a gradual change in his patient’s breathing and oxygenation.

The doctor admitted he should have given clear instructions to nurses to constantly remain with the patient, as well as what precisely to monitor him for, “given that the ingestion of drugs and alcohol could affect his respiratory rate and lead to possible airway obstruction”.

The SCA found the medical practice was not liable for damages.


News24 article – SCA finds doctor liable for brain damage of man who overdosed on alcohol and tablets (Open access)


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