Morné was born prematurely at 27 weeks and weighed 1,1 kg. Despite his premature birth and low birth weight, he was a little fighter and needed only oxygen and care in an incubator.
What happened in the hospital that was negligent?
Whilst in hospital, one evening his mom was sitting next to his bed doing a crossword puzzle when she realized her baby’s lips were turning blue. He had vomited and started choking. His mom immediately pressed the emergency buzzer next to the bed but it did not work. She ran into the hall but there were no nurses to be found.
In desperation, she then ran to the nurses’ station but there were no nurses there either.
Eventually, she found the nurses sitting outside in a passage chatting. When they finally came to Morne’s bedside, there wasn’t an oxygen mask so that they could resuscitate him. They got an oxygen mask from the room next door, but it was an adult size one. Throughout all this time Morné continued choking and could not breathe.
As a result, Morné was not helped fast enough, he asphyxiated (stopped breathing) and now has Cerebral Palsy (a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination (spastic paralysis).
What happens when there is medical negligence?
There are basic requirements of a hospital and of staff giving care to premature babies and it is expected that they are equipped and capable to give care to premature babies. If the medical staff does not provide adequate medical care in line with the standard expected from them, they’re providing substandard treatment which is considered negligent. The standard of treatment is measured by what is expected of practitioners dealing in those circumstances and rendering such services.
If the treatment or lack of treatment due to negligent care results in harm to a patient, the patient can hold the responsible parties liable by taking legal action and claiming compensation. Determining the value of a claim and amount of compensation is based on various factors such as whether there are medical expenses, loss of income, or ability to work or permanent disability. No two children or families are the same and each person’s specific needs have to be assessed to see exactly what they need. https://pauldup.co.za/the-claims-process/
Outcome following the medical negligence case
Morne’s parents knew that raising a child with Cerebral Palsy would come with many personal and practical challenges and many unforeseen expenses. They wanted to educate and equip themselves to care for Morne as best they could and be as involved with their son as much as possible and it is clearly noticeable that despite his disability, he is an exceptionally happy little boy. He requires constant care and supervision significantly more than what would be expected from a non-disabled young boy. His grandmother cares for him during the day and his parents at night and during weekends. In between his parents still need to work and look after their family. As Morne grows he necessarily becomes more difficult to pick up, dress, feed, move around and need specific chairs, dietary requirements, buggies, hoists, and vehicles to help them give him everything he needs while lessening the practical challenges for the family.
Paul du Plessis Attorneys got the compensation the family deserved. The family stays in a small town in Mpumalanga where there are limited services, therapists and places to provide equipment for Cerebral Palsied children. Based on the assessments done during the court case, it was possible to see from various reports what Morné’s needs were and provide the family with recommendations on what and where the care and equipment could be obtained.
Morné had a love for water and it was recommended by Occupational and Physiotherapists that water therapy would be beneficial for his muscles and help improve movement. Because they lived in a small town, there were no therapy centers or therapists where Morné could be taken to receive therapy. This provision enabled the family to build an indoor swimming pool at home especially for this special little boy who loves water. This allowed the therapists to come and give him therapy at home and for the family to give him therapy in between.
The family could also now afford to purchase a larger vehicle to transport him with the special buggy, modify their house to allow for a therapy room, and have sufficient room for movement with a special chair. As a result of the therapy, his strength had improved so much that at some stage he could roll over and bring his hands into a clap position (which is a major breakthrough given his degree of spasticity). The family is in a situation where they can focus on Morné’s care and provide him with the best quality of life possible.