Eleven hours of waiting and a total of four phone calls were needed before a gynaecologist attended to a mother in labour. A TimesLIVE report says the SCA has ordered the gynaecologist‚ Dr Abdool Samad Suliman‚ and Life Healthcare Group to pay R20m for their negligence after the baby was born with cerebral palsy at a KZN hospital in 2008. Suliman was ordered to pay 60% of the cost while Life Healthcare – owner of the Crompton Hospital in Pinetown – will pay 40%.

Judge Jeremiah Shongwe said he agreed with Life Healthcare – which admitted its nurses’ negligence – that Suliman should bear the lion’s share of the blame.

The court found he had adopted a ‘hands-off approach’ and abdicated his duties. In court‚ Suliman contended the mother was not his patient‚ and that a doctor-patient relationship began only when he arrived at the hospital. The court found it was ‘more probable’ that the baby would have avoided harm if Suliman had been at the hospital earlier.

Shongwe said: ‘For that reason the hospital succeeded in proving factual causation on a balance of probabilities. In my view the attitude of Dr Suliman that he had no doctor-patient relationship with the patient was too lackadaisical and ... legally and morally indefensible.

The hospital was found to be negligent as the labour ward sister did not inform Suliman the baby’s heartbeat was failing.

Full TimesLIVE report

Life Healthcare Group (Pty) Ltd v Suliman