The Limpopo health MEC has accepted full liability for the damages suffered by a 29-year-old woman after a botched birth, which killed her baby and almost killed her.
A settlement in terms of which the MEC agreed to compensate Limpopo cleaner Lehlwana Nkoana for her ordeal at the hands of medical staff at the Knobel Hospital in Limpopo five years ago was confirmed in the High Court in Pretoria. Proceedings to determine the amount that Nkoana must receive was postponed indefinitely.
Nkoana instituted a R4.5 million damages claim for her horror experience, after she went to the state hospital for the delivery of her baby.
She was first made to wait on a bench and later placed in a hospital ward where nursing staff reassured her she was just experiencing false labour, which was a “minor complication”.
She was made to wait for the whole night, despite being unable to sleep because of severe labour pains, and was only taken for evaluation the next morning.
She was then told that her uterus had ruptured, that the fetus was lying in her abdomen and that she needed an emergency operation.
She was taken to theatre where she was told that her baby had already died. When she asked what had caused it, she was told it was due to a previous Caesarean section.
She had to undergo a partial hysterectomy, but was left with permanent damage to her uterus and bladder.
She subsequently developed severe complications when her wound did not heal properly and now suffered from pain in her lower abdomen, was prone to urinary tract infections and was left incontinent.
She claimed in court papers hospital staff had been negligent by not properly assessing her and her baby, not realising her baby was in distress, not treating her case as an emergency and not timeously performing a Caesarean section, which would have prevented her uterus from rupturing and could have saved her baby’s life.
She claimed damages not only for her medical costs and loss of income, but also for her pain and suffering, disability, permanent psychological shock and trauma, depression and anxiety for which she needed treatment.