An unfortunate incident during a friend’s engagement party in December 2016, when a man was pulled from behind and twisted his knee, has cost him dearly after his leg had to be amputated.

The Star reports the hospital took more than seven hours to attend to the blockage in a blood vessel to his knee.

This resulted in the restriction of the blood flow to his leg, which in turn necessitated the amputation.

The man, only identified as TLM in Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) Judge Stuart Wilson’s judgment, instituted a multimillion-rand damages claim against the MEC for Health in Gauteng.

The man’s case was not that the hospital staff did not immediately attend to his injuries.

This was done by a medical student who sent him for X-rays and scans, but that when it was clear that the blood flow to his leg was detected, more than seven hours had passed before he was sent to a vascular surgeon, who immediately attended to it.

By that time, however, his leg could not be saved.

The surgeon said if the patient had been referred to him earlier, he probably could have saved his leg.

TLM instituted a claim for damages against the MEC, arising from the amputation of his leg.

The Star says his case was that the MEC’s staff at the hospital wrongfully and negligently failed to identify the nature of his injury in time to save his right leg. The MEC denied both that TLM’s care was negligent and, even if it was negligent, that the negligence caused TLM’s loss.

The MEC argued his loss was in fact caused by his own delay in seeking treatment after he sustained his injury.

However, it was argued on behalf of TLM that if he had not been left untreated for more than seven hours, things could have turned out differently.

The vascular surgeon said had he been faced with the observations of the medical student who originally saw TLM, he would have taken immediate action.

He explained that the practice at the hospital was for a medical student on duty to immediately report observations of the nature made by the student who saw TLM to a more senior physician.

The MEC led no evidence to establish that this happened, Wilson said.

‘It has, in my view, been established on a balance of probabilities, that the failure to take steps to address the occlusion of TLM’s popliteal artery in the seven-and-a-quarter hours between 04h30 and 11h45 was negligent,’ the judge said.

He ruled that the MEC was 100% liable for the damages which TLM can prove that he had suffered.

Full report in The Star

Judgment