The malpractice lawsuit filed against Gaborone Private Hospital (GPH) took an interesting twist last week when the hospital made a third party application for the gynaecologist who was on duty to be declared the wrongdoer, or alternatively a joint wrongdoer.
The marathon suit erupted after media personality Kagiso Malepa and his wife Wally Malepa demanded P16 million in damages from GPH after their baby died post-delivery because of alleged negligence. The hospital has denied any liability for the damages, instead pleading with the court to declare the gynaecologist, Dr Baron Matonhodze as the wrongdoer, or alternatively a joint wrongdoer, in the event the court grants judgement in favour of the couple. The hospital also pled for Dr Matonhodze to be held liable, or at least contribute to the amount to be granted to the Malepas. GPH said the Malepas entered into a patient/doctor agreement with Dr Matonhodze, in which the doctor owed the couple and their unborn child a duty to render his services with care, skill and diligence. It further said Dr Matonhodze was not an employee of the hospital or acting in furtherance its interests.
GPH also denied liability, saying the contract signed by 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. This means that the Malepas may not claim against the release for any injury or harm which the patient suffers in any circumstances,” argued GPH.
Dr Matonhodze’s lawyers, MacRobert Attorneys from South Africa have expressed shock at GPH’s denial of liability. The Malepas also said they were never told that Dr Matonhodze was independent, and asked why GPH was claiming over P50, 000 as fees for Dr Matonhodze’s services. The Malepas’ child died after delivery at GPH on September 9th 2014 because of severe hypoxic eschemic ancephalopathy and uterine rupture. In the suit, the couple accuse GPH of negligence and recklessness, saying the baby’s death caused them extreme emotional pain and trauma. Most medical practitioners and hospitals took up professional indemnity insurance as malpractice lawsuits escalated as Batswana became increasingly litigious and aware of their rights. Therefore most malpractice lawsuits are in fact against the insurance company, rather than the doctor or health care facility responsible for the mistake. The insurance company pays for the doctor or hospital facility’s legal costs and court settlement if the court rules in favour of the patient.