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Gauteng DoH faces 3447 legal claims for R22.6bn – Jack Bloom

DA MPL says the vast majority of claims are for alleged medical negligence

Gauteng Health Department faces 3447 legal claims for R22.6 billion

20 November 2019

The Gauteng Health Department faces 3447 legal claims amounting to R22.6 billion, some of which date back to 2007.

This is disclosed in information the Department provided this week to the Gauteng Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee.

The vast majority of claims are for alleged medical negligence but there are a fair number of claims arising from contractual disputes and accidents involving Department vehicles.

From April to September this year the Department paid out R424 million for 54 medico-legal cases, and R25 million for 58 civil cases.

The Department has sent a circular advising health workers about “consequence management and recovery of monies paid by the Department from them if they are found to have been negligent in carrying out their duties.”

So far this has only applied to vehicle accidents where R18 700 has been recovered from two negligent drivers and R504 000 is claimed from 20 other drivers.

I support holding medical staff to account for medical mistakes by discipline and recovery of costs, but this is only fair where there is adequate staffing and equipment, which is often not the case.

I also support the Department’s intention to use mediation instead of long-drawn-out court cases. It is shocking that R480 million has been spent on legal fees to defend negligence cases in the past six years.

A catalogue of tragedies is revealed in the medical negligence cases lodged from 2007 to date.

Here are some examples from the 50 cases received in 2007 that are still not settled:

16/04/2007 - R100 000 claimed because an object was allegedly left inside a patient at the George Mukhari Hospital.

18/04/2007 - R1 440 000 claimed because a patient’s left leg which was allegedly amputated negligently at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital became septic and the patient died.

20/04/2007 - R34 000 000 claimed because of allegedly negligence during surgery at the Yusuf Dadoo Hospital that led to the complete loss of a penis.

07/05/2007 - R7 400 000 claimed because alleged negligence at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital resulted in severe brain damage to a child.

04/07/2007 - R4 300 000 claimed because patient at the Tambo Memorial Hospital had an operation to remove gall bladder on 21 July 1998 but discovered in August 2006 that it was not removed and had a second operation in October 2006.

20/09/2007 - R500 000 claimed as patient was allegedly burnt during a mastectomy at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

19/12/2007 - R5 290 000 claimed as patient at Edenvale Hospital died of snake bite as they allegedly did not provide him with the anti-venom.

It is disgraceful that there has not been justice for cases that date back more than 10 years. Even worse, there are new cases all the time.

Redress is needed for those who have suffered from past medical negligence, but future cases should be avoided by improving the quality of care at Gauteng public hospitals.

Issued by Jack BloomDA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC, 20 November 2019