Court lambasts hospital for negligently causing permanent brain damage to a newborn

While the world celebrated Christmas day three years ago‚ a new-born baby boy’s life was destroyed at Netcare Femina Hospital in Pretoria.

The boy suffered permanent and total brain damage when he was delivered with the help of vacuum extraction and forceps.

In a recent judgment‚ the North Gauteng High Court made damning findings against nurses at the hospital‚ firmly placing the blame on them for the tragedy.

“I find that the negligence of the first defendant’s [hospital’s] nursing staff was the sole cause of the cerebral palsy suffered by the baby‚” Judge Hans-Joachim Fabricius ruled.

The court lambasted the hospital for “substandard” record keeping as it failed to keep proper records of the woman’s progress.

The hospital was also found to have failed to recognise that the mother was experiencing complications from prolonged labour and failed to act accordingly by performing a caesarean section.

The court also found that the nurses had been negligent in administering Pitocin‚ an artificial uterine stimulant‚ which is used to amplify the frequency and strength of contractions.

Dr Pistorius‚ a foetal and maternal specialist‚ said this drug must be used with caution “because as the uterine activity increases‚ it effectively has the downside of enhancing the limitation of oxygen to the foetus and retaining C02 in the contraction process”.

When the woman reported some bleeding‚ the hospital did not keep a record to show what it had done to establish the extent and cause of the bleeding‚ the court found.

The woman had gone to the hospital on December 25‚ 2013‚ after experiencing labour pains. She was expecting her first child.

She had not displayed any ante-natal problems and had attended a private obstetrician.

When she was admitted at the hospital’s labour ward‚ the woman indicated to nurses that she did not require pain medication.

As her labour pains intensified‚ she noticed blood dripping down her legs.

An hour later‚ Dr Felicia Molokoane‚ an obstetrician arrived. The woman was eight centimetres dilated.

Molokoane undertook to break the woman’s water upon learning that this had not happened.

“Second defendant then asked the nurse to obtain the suction apparatus which the doctor then used three times‚ and thereafter‚ attempted to use forceps‚” court papers read.

When the attempts to deliver the baby with the suction apparatus failed‚ the doctor told nurses to prepare for a caesarean section.

“Second defendant [Molokoane] did not explain the risks and nature of the instrumental delivery attempts to her [the mother] and did not obtain her consent‚ but told her that the procedure was needed as the baby was suffering from distress‚ which she accepted.”

Experts who were called to testify said there was no evidence that the child would have been born with a brain damage‚ except for the negligence of the hospital and the doctor.

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