Madida v. Member of the Executive Council, Province of Kwa-Zulu-Natal

Case No. 14275/2014
Download Judgment: English

The plaintiff instituted an action for medical negligence on behalf of her daughter. She stated that due to the negligence of the hospital staff, her daughter suffers from spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy, poor cognitive ability, feeding difficulty etc. The plaintiff was admitted and assessed by a midwife who authorised her admission to a ward for CTG. The plaintiff was a teenager and also was of short stature, factors which could lead to complications. The defendant filed an application for adjournment.

The Court held the defendant liable for damages and costs. The Court stated that the plaintiff was successful in establishing the casual link between the injury and the negligence. The two of the expert witnesses stated that from the records, the hospital staff should have been well aware of the complications and of the fetal distress. The expert also stated that lack of obstetrical intervention and the fetus was delivered without an obstetrician. Further, the MRI reports suggested that the fetus was deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period. The Expert also noted that the blood sugar test was done after three hours of birth and not immediately.

The Court also noted that the number of cases of medical malpractices has increased and this case is a part of a greater social phenomenon.

 

“The accelerated contraction did not allow the child’s heart rate to recover between contractions. As a result of the accelerated heart rate the foetus developed an oxygen deficit. Reduced oxygen supplied to the foetal brain over a prolonged period resulted in hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy or brain damage. The foetus was delivered without the assistance of the obstetrician.” (Para 58)

“Mr McLynn opined that apart from an early visit from a doctor the lack of obstetrical intervention at any time throughout the process was a failing of the medical staff to do their jobs properly. If they had been monitoring the situation they would have noticed the deficiencies of the midwifery staff in their handling of the situation. Obstetric intervention at the various critical stages would most probably have resulted in the decision to deliver immediately either by caesarian section or with assistance in order to minimize damage to the baby and end the plaintiff’s predicament of a prolonged and difficult labour. The failure to so intervene was negligent.” (Para 60)

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