A Vosloorus family was recently paid R11.3-million in compensation by the Gauteng MEC for Health due to the negligence of nurses and doctors at Natalspruit Hospital, in Katlehong, after the birth of their son.
The child, Anthony (not his real name), was born prematurely at a clinic in Vosloorus in December 2011. He weighed 1.4kg and was immediately transferred to the Natalspruit Hospital.
According to a national newspaper, Anthony was placed in the neonatal intensive care unit, where he was treated as a premature birth.
He received supplemental oxygen for 13 days via a tube into his nose and was discharged six days later. Everything seemed fine and the family was relieved to have their baby home, however, after a few months, the father suspected there was something wrong with Anthony.
When the child was about eight months old he was taken to the St John’s Eye Hospital at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital where he was diagnosed as blind in both eyes due to retinopathy of prematurity.
The family decided to take legal action against the hospital.
The court then appointed a curator who took the case to the Pretoria High Court, claiming R20-m on behalf of Anthony.
The court found that the staff at Natalspruit Hospital were negligent and that Anthony had to be compensated so that he could be taken care of for the rest of his life and that there would be money for his future medical expenses.
Paul du Plessis, the attorney for the family, said: “I confirm that we acted on behalf of Anthony. Anthony’s sight could have been saved had he been referred to an ophthalmologist when he was four to six weeks old.
“This is mandated by a National Health Department Guideline published in 2002.
“Unfortunately, Anthony’s case is not an isolated incident. Our firm represents a number of other prematurely born children who were born and cared for in Natalspruit Hospital and who are now also blind due to retinopathy of prematurity.
“In each of these cases blindness could and should have been prevented with proper care,” du Plessis said.