Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) is battling to quell a P7.5million lawsuit from an enraged couple who accuse the hospital and its staff of negligence that culminated in the death of their new born child.
The couple filed the lawsuit early this year after their baby died a few hours after birth due to severe hypoxic eschemic ancephalopathy and uterine rupture. In papers served to the hospital, the couple explain that they had an unremarkable pregnancy until they failed to deliver on the expected date, which was 31stAugust, 2014.
They then consulted Dr Baron Matonhodze, a practicing obstetrician and gynaecologist on September 1, who booked them for an induced delivery on September 4. The couple missed the booking date because they were sceptical about delivery by induction, as they had sired two healthy babies through normal delivery. They consulted Dr Matonhodze on September 5 for clarity on what informed his decision, whereupon he insisted on delivery by induction and booked the couple at GPH’s labour ward on September 8.
“The admission was done by a nurse at 0630hours and Dr Matonhodze was not on hand to explain what method would be used to induce delivery. The doctor only met with us for a few minutes at 1500hrs,” said the couple in their papers.
The patient was given oral medication of misoprostol for two hour intervals from 630hrs until 1630hrs. Problems started at 1800hrs when she started experiencing severe abdominal pains and was administered with pethidine.
By 1830hrs, the mother was in severe pain and was whisked into theatre for caesarean section. Hospital records show that upon incision of the mother’s womb the baby was 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 9 at about 1650hrs. The final diagnosis was that the baby died because of severe hypoxic eschemic ancephalopathy and uterine rupture.
In their claim, the couple accuse GPH of negligence and recklessness. They fault the hospital staff for failing to conduct vaginal examination of the patient upon admission to establish her readiness for delivery and insist that it was wrong for the patient to be admitted by a nurse instead of Dr Matonhodze.
“At least six doses of the drug misoprostol were administered at two hour intervals from 0630hrs to 1630hrs without any vaginal examination. We were never informed of such medication and/or its side effects,” said the couple.
They added that GPH failed to inform them of the various methods of induction to enable them to make an informed choice.
“No measurement of the cervix was to confirm its flexibility and/or dilation. Dr Matonhodze had no effective and proper plan for managing labour and delivery. There was no proper assessment of the patient and the baby from admission until emergency operation,” they said.
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 couple also insist that caesarean section instead of induction was the appropriate method of delivery from the moment of admission. They added that the diagnosis of severe foetal distress was made when the uterus had long ruptured and the baby was already in the abdomen, which was indicative of gross failure to monitor, assess and review both the patient and the baby.
“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.
In response GPH denied liability, saying Dr Matonhodze was an independent medical practitioner who is not an employee of the hospital. Dr Matonhodze’s lawyers, MacRobert Attorneys from South Africa, responded on December 8 and asked the couple to demonstrate how they had reached the claim of P7.5m and also furnish them with copies of the medico legal reports. MacRobert Attorneys also expressed shock at GPH’s denial of liability. Meanwhile GPH has sued the couple for over P50, 000 in medical fees for services rendered at the time of the baby’s death. GPH is represented in the matter by Osei-Ofei Swabi and Co.