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Medical and Hospital Negligence

Medical and Hospital Negligence Cause Patient Deaths in Hospitals and Care Facilities

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the UK, as many as two patients die daily of starvation or malnutrition in UK hospitals or care facilities. Accordingly, as many as 726 death certificates of patients in UK hospitals in 2015 stated dehydration or malnutrition while in hospital as the cause of death.

According to the patient safety experts of John Hopkins, more than 250 000 patient deaths per year in the USA can be contributed to medical errors. This is according to the figures released and published in the BMJ of 3 May 2016.

What about South Africa?

Locally, the recent newspaper reports regarding 141 patient deaths stated as allegedly the result of hunger, cold and malnutrition in NGOs after the patients were transferred to various NGOs earlier this year, have placed the spotlight on medical and hospital negligence in South Africa. The patients, according to the news reports, were transferred to the various NGOs after the former MEC Qedani Mahlangu terminated the government contract with Life Esidimeni Health Care Centre.

According to an article written by Mpho Raborife, News24 (23 May 2017), the DA announced in May that the Gauteng Department paid out more than R1bn in medical negligence claims from January 2015 until the start of 2017. The article also states that 76 per cent of the claims were related to brain damage suffered by babies.

The above figures are alarming, especially since hospitals are medical care facilities and have the duty of care to patients. Part of the duty is to ensure that patients receive reasonable standards of care. Death as the result of malnutrition or dehydration, cold, or a medical mistake does not constitute reasonable standards of care.

People have reason to be concerned about the state of medical and hospital care, since the news reports also for countries such as the USA and the UK are certainly not encouraging. But, can the relatives and dependants of deceased patients take legal action against medical care facilities and hospitals for the damages suffered? And can mothers take legal action against the doctors and the hospitals where their babies have suffered brain damage? Can a patient claim compensation for injuries suffered related to infections as the result of unhygienic practices by medical care givers?

The answer is yes, if malpractice or negligence was the cause of death or injury and damages, the victim has the right to initiate legal action to get compensation for damages suffered. Keep in mind that there must have been a duty of care, the action or lack thereof must have been wrongful, and must have been the direct cause of the injury suffered.

It is imperative to keep all medical records, receipts for account payments, and any written communication regarding the particular medical incident, whether related to a medical mistake or hospital negligence regarding proper patient care.

Various factors, however, must be taken into consideration to determine whether malpractice or negligence did indeed take place, best discussed with experienced medical and hospital negligence attorneys such as Adele van der Walt. Contact us today for more information.


Information in this article is not intended as legal advice and is only for informational purposes. Please seek legal guidance from Adele van der Walt before relying on this information to make any legal decisions.

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