A Pretoria clerk whose husband died after he was shunted between the Steve Biko Hospital and Tshwane District Hospital without being treated, despite having suffered a suspected heart attack, is suing the Gauteng health MEC for R2.8 million.
The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria this week granted an order condoning the late filing of widow Surette Swart’s claim for loss of support against the health MEC. Swart, 45, an administrative clerk in Villieria, said in court papers her husband Bernard (then 43) had consulted a general practitioner in the early hours of July 10, 2012 because he was not feeling well.
After examining her husband’s EEG readings, the doctor referred him to Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria where the staff told him he needed the attention of a cardiac specialist. They were unable to assist him as no such specialist was available.
He was referred to Tshwane District Hospital but on arrival there, was told that they, too, were unable to assist him and the staff got him transferred back to Steve Biko by ambulance.
Swart was advised two days later that her husband had died at Steve Biko. Swart alleged in court papers that staff at both hospitals had failed or refused to attend to her husband at a time when it was necessary to do so in a manner befitting the occasion and having regard for his serious condition.
She alleged that their failure to properly examine and timeously attend to her husband, to refer him to a specialist and to give him the urgent care and attention his condition demanded had caused his untimely and unnecessary death.
According to court papers, Swart and her son were left destitute after the death of her husband, who was an electrician. She is suing the MEC for her loss of maintenance and support.
The MEC denied any negligence at either of the hospitals and insisted Swart’s claim should not be allowed to proceed as she had failed to give notice of her claim within the legally prescribed period.