Sunday, May 9, 2021

GPH denies liability in P16m malpractice lawsuit

Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) has denied any liability or wrong doing in the marathon malpractice lawsuit launched against the hospital by media personality Kagiso Malepa and his wife Wally Malepa. The couple is demanding P16 million in damages from the hospital after their baby died post-delivery because of alleged negligence.

In papers filed before Gaborone High Court last week, GPH, through its lawyer Daniel Swabi of Osei-Ofei Swabi Attorneys, denied any responsibility for the death of the child or any liability for the damages sought by the bereaved family. The hospital claims that it is protected by law from the lawsuit. The hospital also laid the blame on Dr Baron Matonhodze, the practicing obstetrician and gynaecologist who booked the couple for delivery on September 4th, and under whose care the child later died.

Last week, acting on behalf of the Malepas, attorney Omphemetse Motumise agreed to GPH’s proposal for Dr Matonhodze to be summoned to court to allow for the case to be resolved on its merits. However, GPH has failed to submit any third party notice to allow for Dr Matonhodze to be included in the matter. In its founding affidavit, GPH argued that, on proper construction of the disclaimer and indemnity, the Malepas have waived their right to claim against the hospital and are precluded by law from doing so. The hospital said its contract with the couple specified that the hospital was indemnified as a health care provider.

“Neither the hospital nor its associated companies are liable for injury or any harm that the patient may have suffered regardless of how this arises. This means that neither the Malepas nor any other person may claim against the release for any injury or harm which the patient or guardian suffers in any circumstances,” argued GPH.

The hospital also denied that Dr Matonhodze was under its employment or acting in its interests. Dr Matonhodze’s lawyers, MacRobert Attorneys from South Africa have expressed shock at GPH’s denial of liability. The Malepas also insist that they were never told that Dr Matonhodze was independent. They also asked why GPH had claimed over P50, 000 as fees for Dr Matonhodze’s professional services.

“The doctor was operating from GPH. We sought treatment from GPH and we knew nothing of its employees’ terms of employment,” they said.

The Malepas had an unremarkable pregnancy until they failed to deliver on the expected date, 31st August, 2014. Previously, the couple had sired two healthy babies through normal delivery.

On September 8th, Dr Matonhodze booked Wally Malepa for delivery by induction at GPH’s labour ward. But the doctor was not there when they were admitted at 06h30, as he only met them for a few minutes at 15h00. The Malepas were all along attended to by nurses, who gave Wally Malepas oral medication of misoprostol for two hour intervals from 06h30 until 16h30. Problems started at 18h00 when she started experiencing severe abdominal pains and was administered with pethidine. By 18h30, she was in severe pain and was whisked into theatre for caesarean section.

Upon incision of the mother’s womb, the baby was already out in the abdomen through a middle rupture of the uterus. The caesarean section was initiated due to severe foetal distress and the baby had suffered severe birth asphyxia. The baby did not survive and was certified dead on September 9th at about 16h50. The final diagnosis was that the baby died because of severe hypoxic eschemic ancephalopathy and uterine rupture.

In its narration of events, GPH said Wally Malepa was administered with pethidine (100mg) and Aterax (100mg) at approximately 18h10 on instructions from Dr Matonhodze. It was later noted that she had suffered middle uterine rupture and the foetus was protruded into her abdominal cavity.

“The foetus was removed and a live baby was born. The baby was actively resuscitated and transferred to neonatal ICU. At approximately 16h50, the baby was certified dead,” writes GPH in its affidavit.

In their claim, the couple accuse GPH of negligence and recklessness, saying its staff failed to conduct vaginal examination of the patient to establish her readiness for delivery. They blame misoprostol for causing rupture of the uterus and severe foetal distress and insist that Dr Matonhodze ought to have known that the size of the baby was too big to allow for natural birth.

“The death of our child has caused us extreme emotional pain and trauma. The baby’s mother may never be able to conceive again; if she does it will be extremely dangerous and life threatening,” said the couple.

However, the hospital denied any liability for the death of the baby and laid all the blame on Dr Matonhodze.

“GPH denies each and every allegation contained herein as is specifically traversed and the Malepas are put to the proof,” said the hospital.

GPH also argued that the Malepas waived their right to claim against it and are precluded by law from doing so. The hospital denied liability to pay the amounts claimed by the Malepas and pleased with the court to dismiss the couple’s application with costs.

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