DA concerned about Medical negligence litigation claims

POLOKWANE

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Limpopo said it deeply concerned by the Limpopo Department of Health’s contingent liabilities of R14,063 billion that stem from medico legal cases against the department.

The DA indicated it will write to the Public Service Commission to investigate the medico-legal crisis the province is currently facing.

The party said these medico legal cases could potentially cripple the Department of Health if the courts were to make rulings that the Department was negligent and should pay.

“The challenge with the cases is that neither the department nor the provincial administration has a budget to settle these cases if judgment was not in favour of the department in court.

“The factors related to the root causes of the high rate of litigation against the department are critical staff shortages in high-risk areas, lack of professionalism, incompetence, poor communication and staff attitude, lack of equipment, lost records, failure to obtain informed consent, missed diagnosis, failure to conduct basic investigations and system errors,” revealed DA’s Risham Maharaj, spokesperson on health matters.

He said his party has noted that Limpopo Department of Health has established a turnaround strategy to deal with the litigations against the department

“We believe that the strategy will remain a plan on a paper with no real solutions to the reckless behaviour by numerous department officials due to non-accountability.”

Vhembe District health facilities have 500 medico legal cases amounting to R5,251 billion, Capricorn District has 330 claims amounting to R2,356 billion, Mopani District has 322 cases amounting R2,683 billion, Sekhukhune District has 305 cases amounting to R3,006 billion and Waterberg district has 118 cases amounting to R766,053 million.

The largest contributing hospitals to the medical negligence cases are Tshilidzini Hospital with R1,497 billion, Donald Fraser Hospital R1 billion, Mankweng Hospital with R764 million, Pietersburg Hospital with R625 million, Philadelphia Hospital with R652 million and Nkhensani Hospital with R600 million.

The number of claims relating to medical negligence has sharply escalated over the years.

“The rising amount of claims in Limpopo shows that hospital conditions in the province are not improving and are offering sub-standard services to the people of Limpopo.

“It is clear that firm steps are needed to improve the quality of care in the province’s hospitals to ensure they are functional and do not inflict further pain and injury on patients. The failure by Limpopo MEC for Health, Phophi Ramathuba, and the Department to address litigation claims will result in the deterioration and further reduction of care in our healthcare system,” concluded Maharaj.

Thapelo Motseo

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