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‘Negligent’ nurses: no action

Disciplinary action is yet to be taken against nurses after a mother had to listen as they broke her stillborn baby’s collarbones during a traumatic delivery.

The incident at Philadelphia Hospital near Dennilton on February 8, 2006, cost the Mpumalanga health department more than R500000 in damages.

Provincial health and social development spokesperson Dumisani Mlangeni confirmed that the Pretoria High Court had awarded Rezael Tshabangu R515000 in damages.

“I can confirm that the department was ordered to pay Tshabangu for what happened in that particular hospital. However, we are unable to take action against the nurses, because the hospital is no longer under our control,” said Mlangeni.

The hospital now fell under the Limpopo health and social development department, after the Moutse area was reassigned. “I suggest that you interact with them (the Limpopo department) in order to check if they have taken action against the nurses,” said Mlangeni.

The department would not appeal the high court ruling, but would pay Tshabangu the money.

“The department is in the process of paying her the amount that the court ruled she should be paid,” he said.

Tshabangu said that she heard nurses break her son’s collarbones and cut through his flesh as they tried to force him out of the birth canal. She said he was treated like a “braai pack” and was later wrapped in plastic.

The court ruled that Tshabangu be paid R515000 in damages. Of this, R215000 will be for future medical care and R300000 for her pain and suffering.

Limpopo health and social development spokesman Joe Maila said he was unaware of the case. “We are currently not aware about the situation, but we will interact with the Mpumalanga government in order to deal with the matter. We will wait until we get a formal request from the Mpumalanga government so that we know where to start to work on this problem,” said Maila.

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) has advised that Tshabangu and her family go back to court in order to force the relevant department to discipline the nurses.

“She should hire a lawyer and take the matter back to court, because her rights were violated. If she does not have money to get a lawyer, she should write a letter to the Legal Aid Board and inform them about her situation,” said HRC spokesperson Vincent Moaga. Meanwhile, the Mpumalanga health department has not taken action against a Barberton hospital doctor who cut off a seven-year-old boy’s penis in a botched circumcision in 2008.

The boy’s mother has instructed her lawyers to sue the hospital, the provincial department and Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Mlangeni confirmed that the department had received legal letters from the mother’s lawyers, which were being studied by the department’s legal team.

“In the meantime, the department is also conducting an investigation in order to get to the bottom of the matter,” he said.

In another instance, a former teacher in Mpumalanga has been paid R8m by the provincial health department following a botched operation.

Thembelihle Msibi sustained irreversible brain damage after a failed Caesarean operation at Piet Retief Hospital in 2002.

Msibi, a former Grade 1 teacher, was 28 when she had an emergency Caesarean with her second child.

The department has stated that it has paid out about R40m to settle medical negligence claims since 2009.