Sunday, 14 April, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalMEC liable for damages after man’s leg amputated

MEC liable for damages after man’s leg amputated

A judge has ruled that the Gauteng Health MEC is 100% liable for a multimillion rand damages claim by a man who had his leg amputated after delayed treatment at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in 2016.

The hospital took more than seven hours to attend to the blockage in a blood vessel to his knee, which was twisted while he was attending a function, and restricted the blood flow to his leg, necessitating the amputation, The Star reports.

His case was that hospital staff did not immediately attend to his injuries. This was done by a medical student who sent him for X-rays and scans, but when it was clear blood flow to his leg was impeded, more than seven hours had passed before he was sent to a vascular surgeon.

However, his leg could not be saved.

The surgeon said if the patient had been referred to him earlier, he probably could have saved his limb.

The court was told that immediately after the injury occurred, the man was taken to Chiawelo Clinic, where nursing staff attended to him. They suspected a fractured knee and he was taken by ambulance to Bara, arriving at around 2.45am. A patient record was opened at 3.29am, but he was not examined until around 4.30am.

The examination was done by a medical student who noted a swollen and sensitive right knee. The student could not detect any sign of blood flow to the right foot, but noted he still had some sensation in his lower right limb, so recommended an X-ray and CT scan be taken.

The X-ray revealed no fracture. Shortly before noon, he was seen by a vascular surgeon, who immediately diagnosed that the injury had resulted in a blockage to a blood vessel in the knee, cutting off the blood supply to his right lower limb.

By the time this specialist saw him, the patient’s foot was cold. The tissues starved of oxygen and other nutrients died and the limb had to be amputated above the knee.

The man instituted a claim for damages against the MEC, saying the MEC’s staff at Baragwanath wrongfully and negligently failed to identify the nature of his injury in time to save his leg.

The MEC denied both that TM’s care was negligent and, even if it were negligent, that the negligence caused the amputation loss. It argued that his loss was in fact caused by his own delay in seeking treatment after the injury.

However, it was argued on behalf of the man that if he had not been left untreated for more than seven hours, things could have turned out differently.

The vascular surgeon said had he been given the observations of the medical student who originally saw the patient, he would have taken immediate action.

He said the practice at Baragwanath was for a student on duty to immediately report observations like this to a more senior physician.

The MEC led no evidence to establish that this happened, Judge Stuart Wilson said.

“It has, in my view, been established on a balance of probabilities, that the failure to take steps to address the occlusion of the popliteal artery in the seven-and-a-quarter hours between 04h30 and 11h45 was negligent,” he said, ruling that the MEC was 100% liable for the damages which the man can prove he had suffered.

judgment TLM_v_MEC_for_Health_and_Social_Development

 

The Star PressReader article – MEC to pay damages after man loses leg (Open access)

 

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