Medical Negligence cases are getting the attention they deserve from the Gauteng Health Department. It’s good to see that the standard of care is being looked at – if the care is up to scratch, there will be far less cases to defend. The Star reported the following today.
Johannesburg – The Gauteng provincial government has spent more than R500 million to settle medical lawsuits over a period of five years.
This was revealed by Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu, who was replying to questions from the DA spokesman on health, Jack Bloom, in the legislature on Tuesday.
Bloom asked Mahlangu to give details of medical lawsuits the government had won and lost since 2010 and those it settled out of court during the same period.
In her reply, Mahlangu said the government had lost 168 cases and had made payouts to victims amounting to R540m.
She told the legislature that her department had solicited the help of retired Judge Neels Claassen to deal with the growing number of medical lawsuits against the department.
She said Judge Claassen and senior officials in the department had already begun talking to various medical practitioners, gynaecologists and nurses in labour wards about safety measures to be undertaken during birth.
Addressing the Standard of Care – a good place to start
“Judge Claassen is already talking to the different officials in the labour wards to do proper record-keeping about their patients. We also emphasise that it is important for pregnant women to attend their antenatal services to prevent cases of medical negligence. We encourage them to attend soon after discovering that they are pregnant.
“During the same time, we are investing more on the employment of people in the labour units, especially in hospitals like Tembisa and Chris Hani Baragwanath, which have the highest cases of lawsuits against them,” Mahlangu said.
She said the judge was part of their redress committee, aimed at resolving these cases with the affected patients to prevent the matters being settled in courts.
The conduct of state attorneys, according to Mahlangu, would also come under focus, saying that – at times – they were making out-of-court settlements without the knowledge of her department. So far, the department had settled eight cases out of court.
Reacting, Bloom said: “I welcome MEC Mahlangu’s announcement in the legislature that the department will not fight unnecessary court cases and will admit guilt where indicated.
“This has not been the case in the past, including the recent R13.1m settlement for brain-damaged child Nonjabulo Mavimbela where the department appealed fruitlessly for two years after losing the case in court.”
Bloom said he hoped that these measures would help to ensure fair and speedy settlements of medical negligence, and also fix the root cause of the poor care in the province’s hospitals.
The Star September 2 2015, By Baldwin Ndaba