A distraught mother, Lalu Ruth Mazhani, is suing Nyangabwe Referral Hospital for P10 million accusing the public hospital of causing the death of her 13-year-old daughter.
According to her court papers sometime in June 2010, her daughter (name withheld) felt an excruciating pain in her abdominal area.
Disturbed by her daughter’s deteriorating health condition, on or about the 9th of June 2010 she took her to Nyangabwe Referral Hospital where she was admitted the same night.
Mazhan was informed by surgeons on duty that they needed to operate on her daughter to remove her appendix to relieve the pain.
The operation was done on the same night on the 9th of June 2010. After the operation the plaintiff’s daughter continued to feel the tightness in her stomach and to a certain degree it became sore.
The plaintiff’s daughter continued to feel the pain especially when she was relieving herself. The situation got worse to the extent that she started swelling in the neck sometime in June 2010. The health problem persisted until she took her to Jubilee Hospital on the 21st of September 2010 to get pills for constipation but the situation did not improve.
On the 29th of September 2010 she took her daughter for a CT-Scan at Nyangabwe Hospital to see what the problem was. The daughter was attended by one Dr Mcharo who suggested that a second biopsy operation be carried out and that her daughter should be admitted on the 14th of October 2010.
On the 30th of September 2010 while her daughter was in a toilet, she experienced a sharp pain and felt as if something had blocked her anal passage. She however pulled it out and to her shock it appeared to be a medical gauze. She showed it to her mother and during the same day she reported the matter to the hospital staff.
The plaintiff found a junior Doctor, one Dr. Max Nthato who assigned a nurse to preserve the object and to take it to his supervisors after independence holidays. The plaintiff only managed to have one meeting months later with the hospital superintendent (Dr Mosweu). Dr Mosweu and her staff advised her that they could not in any way take responsibility for what happened.
Unfortunately, while the plaintiff was in the process of trying to get recourse and get to the bottom of everything, her daughter passed away on the 24th of June 2011. She had been experiencing excruciating pains once again around her abdomen area.
On the 5th of September 2013, an application was filed to compel Nyangabwe Hospital to produce a medical report. The report was only released on the 19th of May 2014. In the report, Nyangabwe Hospital is alleged to have admitted that the gauze was left unintentionally in the plaintiff’s daughter. The plaintiff contends that essentially a foreign body such as a gauze having been left in her child’s body caused an infection.
The plaintiff feels that the period between 9th of June 2010 and 30th September 2010 was substantially a long period for a foreign body to have caused extensive and irreparable harm to her daughter’s body.
She also contends that as a result of the hospital’s failure to take due care and attention expected during the appendectomy operation, it led to the death of her daughter.
She feels the hospital had a duty to operate with due care and diligence expected of it on all of its patients.
She is also of the view that the Hospital negligently and failed to carry out sufficient proper surgery on her daughter with the sufficient skills and due care that is expected from surgeons. As a result of these negligence, the plaintiff feels it caused the death of her daughter.
The plaintiff claims to have suffered trauma due to the loss of her daughter which continues to haunt her overall function. Despite legal demand, she feels the defendant has neglected and refused to pay her. She is demanding that the hospital pay her P10 million for mental anguish and the costs of suit.
However, the defendant (Ministry of Health) represented by Wedu Maphane from the Attorney General has denied responsibility for the death of the deceased as claimed by the plaintiff in the court papers.
Part of the argument by the defendant is that if the gauze was obstructing the bowel movement of the deceased, such could have stabilized once it was passed outside of the body. The defendant further maintains in the court papers that by the time the minor died, there was a period of 9 months after the foreign object had been passed.
“The defendant did not fail in the duty expected of it. Further the defendant denies that the appendectomy operation led to the demise of the plaintiff’s daughter,” reads part of the Defendant’s plea.
The defendant also denies that in carrying out surgery on the plaintiff’s daughter there was failure to exercise proper skill and due care that is expected of surgeons adding that there were no damages suffered. Furthermore, the defendant is praying that the action be dismissed with costs. The plaintiff is represented by Mizha legal attorneys.
The case is before Francistown High Court Judge Lot Moroka.
The case continues.