Fri Sep 22 13:48:15 SAST 2017

Mother wins case of negligence against Bara after child born with severe cerebral palsy

By Sibongile Mashaba | 2017-04-18 12:02:47.0

A Johannesburg mother has told of how a multimillion-rand payout will change her child's life.

A Johannesburg mother has told of how a multimillion-rand payout will change her child's life.

The mother, who asked not be named, took on the Gauteng department of health after her daughter, five, was born with cerebral palsy due to negligence by staff at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Diepkloof, Soweto.

She was awarded R25.4-million in damages by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg in February.

Although the department was ordered to pay by March 8, it has not done so.

The child suffers from severe cerebral palsy due to failure by the hospital doctors to do an emergency Caesarean section when she was born on December 30 2011. She cannot sit, talk, walk or even crawl. The mother and child live in a two-roomed shack.

"First, I want her to have a home where she will be able to move freely. I want her to go to school so she can learn, play and be with children like her.

"She cannot do anything on her own," said the woman, originally from Limpopo.

The mother said her daughter had not led a normal life since she was born and it took her six months to figure out that her daughter was paralysed.

"I could not figure out what was wrong with her, but I was worried because she was unable to do things children her age would normally do.

"She did not play, murmur words or even sit by herself.

"The doctors at the clinic told me that she was not maturing as quickly as children her age were supposed to.

"I then remembered that something unusual happened when I went into labour at Bara," she said.

Her labour was prolonged by almost 48 hours without the necessary measures being taken.

The mother said there was nothing that could ever make her desert her child.

"I love her. She is my baby. I cannot change that I am her mother. God gave her to me.

"The bond between us cannot be broken. It is important that we get the money so that she can get the proper medical care she needs. Public hospitals have not been able to help her," she said.

The child cannot chew and her mother feeds her.

"She eats soft foods. I take about 30 minutes when feeding her. At times she cries and it hurts me that she cannot talk to me to tell me what is wrong."

The woman's attorney, Deon Smith from René Fouché Incorporated, said the baby's life expectancy as agreed by experts in court was 23 years.

"That is if she receives all the necessary treatment she requires. This includes dentists, psychologists, physiologists and occupational therapists.

"Experts also agreed that R11-million will be required for future medical costs. We had a meeting with the department's representatives (on Tuesday) and we understand that they have financial constraints. However, we want them to pay a huge amount of the capital and we can make arrangements for them to pay the rest in instalments," Smith said.

Gauteng health 'can't afford pay'

The Gauteng department of health does not have funds to make a payout to the family of a five-year-old girl who was left brain damaged due to medical negligence.

Spokesman Khutso Rabothata told Sowetan: "[We are] not certain [on when payment will be made]. The department did not have funds [which led to the delay in making the payment]."

DA health spokesman in the province Jack Bloom said the sheriff of the court visited the department's offices on March 31, but no assets were attached as the department made "promises to pay".

"But the department has still not paid despite a daily penalty interest on the amount," Bloom said.

"It [the department] should also give a higher priority to improving the quality of healthcare so that there are fewer patients harmed by medical mistakes."

Rabothata said the "court ordered interest to be 10.25% per annum on the said capital amount from the date of judgment, February 8 2017".

In August, Sowetan reported the department was facing medical negligence claims of R1.6-billion.

It was revealed the department had paid out R796.3-million in medical negligence lawsuits since January 2015.

The department had also lost 73 medical negligence cases that were settled in 2016, amounting to R363-million.

In 2015, R433-million was paid out to claimants.