R544 million paid for medical negligence in Gauteng

By Jack Bloom MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health:

The Gauteng Health Department has paid R544 million for medical negligence claims since January 2010.

This astounding figure was revealed today by Gauteng Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu in reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

She said that 168 cases had been lost in court and 8 cases were settled out of court.

It appears that the department has not won a single medical negligence case during this time.

I welcome 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 R13.1 million settlement for brain-damaged child Nonjabulo Mavimbela where the department appealed fruitlessly for two years after losing the case in court.

Mahlangu said that there would be more emphasis on negotiation and mediation in negligence cases, with the help of retired judges.

Furthermore, special attention will be given to improving conditions at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital and the Tembisa Hospital as they account for the bulk of the medical negligence cases.

I hope that these measures help to ensure fair and speedy settlements of medical negligence, and also fix the root cause which is poor care in our hospitals.

Instead of paying out huge amounts for medical negligence, it would be far better for our hospitals to ensure that patients are healed rather than damaged by avoidable mistakes.