The department of health spends more than R200 million on negligence payouts every year, says Gauteng DA health spokesperson Jack Bloom.
Last week, the South Gauteng High Court ordered the department to pay R30 million to Kagiso Molefe, who fell during birth and suffered severe brain injury due to the negligence of the staff at the Natalspruit Hospital on April 22, 2005.
Molefe’s legal representative, Gary Austin, said the victim had suffered cerebral palsy and now had to rely on his mother, Prudence, and brother, Sherilo, to perform basic tasks.
“He is confined to a wheelchair,” Austin said. “He will require a full-time caregiver for the rest of his life.” Austin said 36 experts were called by both parties to determine the nature and extent of Kagiso’s disabilities during the court battle between the family and the department.
The merits for Kagiso’s case included the cost of estimated future medical expenses, loss of earnings and general damages (pain and suffering; loss of the pleasures of life; and loss of amenities of life).
Bloom said the department had paid out R276 million for 110 legal claims, the majority being for medical negligence, over the past two years. He said Molefe’s R30 million payout was the highest in the past four years.
“I hope the court cases spur action by the department to root out bad medical practices.” Bloom said in the 2013-2014 financial year, R155 million was paid for 59 legal claims and R121 million the previous year for 51 cases.
But departmental spokesperson Steve Mabona said “claims are unplanned and, as such, it is difficult to predict adverse events or eventualities. The department is trying to improve management of all incidents leading to claims.”