A Pretoria father is suing the Limpopo Health MEC for more than R3 million on behalf of his teenage son, whose left arm was amputated because of alleged shoddy treatment for a broken arm.
The claim by Monyai Lephale on behalf of his 14-year-old son McDonald, was this week postponed indefinitely in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, following an application by the MEC. The boy was taken to the Botlokwa hospital in June 2013, after sustaining a dislocated elbow and a fracture of his left arm during a soccer match.
According to court papers, his arm was put in a plaster cast and he was given pain medication, but the cast was later removed and re-applied before he was discharged. He was re-admitted to the hospital two days later after complaining of severe pain.
He was then diagnosed with severe compartment syndrome and told that he had to be transferred to the Polokwane provincial hospital. While waiting for the ambulance, the nurses removed the cast and found that the boy had blisters on his arm and hand, which were grossly swollen. His fingers already had a blue tinge.
His wounds were treated and he was only given pain medication but he was still not transferred to Polokwane and allegedly did not receive any medical treatment until his family took him there eleven days later. Most of his arm eventually was amputated at the Polokwane hospital about three months later, after he developed gangrene.
Lephale alleged the doctors and nurses at the Botlokwa hospital had been negligent by not properly monitoring or treating his son and not ensuring that he was timeously transferred to a hospital with surgeons who had sufficient expertise to treat him.
He alleged in court papers his son had suffered agonising pain associated with the amputation of his arm, experienced emotional shock and psychological trauma, now suffered from chronic pain and would be unable to earn an income because of his permanent disability. The MEC denied any negligence.
A vascular surgeon said in a report the boy’s treatment had been substandard and unacceptable. An orthopaedic surgeon said severe cases of compartment syndrome could lead to renal failure and death and it was unimaginable what pain the child went through.