The Gauteng Health Department has brought down its medico-legal liability from R22 billion to R15.6 billion, but R589 million was claimed in new letters of demand from July to September this year.
This is revealed in a presentation by the Department to the Gauteng Legislature Health Committee on Tuesday this week.
According to the report, the reduction is the result of the following:
• reduction of R3.03 billion through the proper verifying of actual claims;
• settlements amounting to R532 million from last year to date;
• a further saving of R2.78 billion as a result of forensic investigation of 305 matters;
• a further reduction of R102 million by successful mediation of cases from October 2019 to August 2020.
I commend the department for these measures which have exposed fraudulent claims and speedily settled some claims through mediation, but I am concerned that there were new medico-legal claims of R589 million in letters of demand from July to September this year.
The problem is that too many patients are still suffering injury in our hospitals because of medical errors.
We see this in these recent settlements of cases by mediation:
• R1 970 000 paid to a child whose leg was amputated through negligence at Heidelberg Hospital.
• R250 000 awarded to the parents of a baby that was still born at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital (CHBH).
• R800 000 awarded to the mother of another still born baby at CHBH who suffered a hysterectomy after a botched caesarean operation.
The way forward should include accountability for those who are guilty of medical negligence, and proper staffing, training and equipment to ensure quality care for all patients.