MEC accepts responsibility for medical negligence

Posted On:   29 June 2019

Pretoria, South Africa – 29th May, 2019: The MEC for Health in Mpumalanga has accepted 100% liability for the fact that a former Pretoria chef cannot use his left arm and hand properly, nor open his fingers due to medical negligence.

Jan Makua, 43, is claiming R2.1million in damages in the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, from the MEC.

He was admitted to the KwaMhlanga Hospital near Bronkhorstspruit on January 2, 2014. He suffered extensive wounds at the time after he was stabbed with a knife in his left forearm. The incident occurred in Moloto, where he was living.

The wound was sutured by the doctors on duty and he was admitted to hospital for about 12 days.

He complained that on the second day of his stay in hospital his wound showed signs of becoming septic.

He was taken to theatre five days later, where the wound was cleaned.

But two days later the wound was still bleeding. The nursing staff recorded that cellulitis (bacterial infection of the skin) was developing on the wound. He was nevertheless discharged on January 13, 2014, and told by his employer to return to work five days later. But when he got to work his employer noticed that his arm was not in good shape. He referred Makau to a private doctor. He was then taken to the Steve Biko Academic Hospital for further treatment.

He was admitted to hospital where the staff at Steve Biko treated his wounds over the next few days.

A skin graft was later done, which did not take. He was also told that at some stage, a tendon transplant had to be done. He was told that he was on a waiting list for this and he will be notified when it will be done.

According to expert reports handed to court, Makau is still waiting for this operation. He has been a chef for more than 19 years and at the time of the incident, he worked as a chef at Machics restaurant in Lynnwood.

His lawyer, JP Rudd, said Makau could not manage his duties as chef with only one arm, as he is unable to lift hot pots and pans.

He is, however, now one of the managers at this restaurant. Rudd said they are happy that the MEC has accepted liability and the question of how much damages should be awarded to him, is expected to be determined by the court next year.

Rudd commented that State hospitals render a vital service to the bulk of the community and they have a duty to ensure that they render professional care to patients.

According to expert reports, it is likely that Makau would have had at least 90% of his arm and hand function if he was treated properly in the first place.

One of the experts told the court that the treatment Makau received at KwaMhlanga Hospital fell far below that which is expected of medical practitioners.

He said that the seriousness of the injury was never recognised by the medical staff and he should have been referred to a hospital, such as Steve Biko, which could have given him proper care.