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HomeMedico-LegalMother sues Gauteng Health over incubator death of twin

Mother sues Gauteng Health over incubator death of twin

A mother, with the help of her parents, is suing Gauteng Health for damages after one of her twins died in an incubator, allegedly due to the fact that both babies were placed in one incubator. According to a Pretoria News report, the mother, who can’t be named as she was not yet 18 when the incident occurred, said in papers before the North Gauteng High Court that the babies were born in 2015.

It was stated that she was rushed to the Kalafong Hospital in Atteridgeville on 14 May, 2015. She was admitted to the emergency room where a Caesarean section was performed. She later gave birth to twins, but she did not state their sex in her summons. The mother only referred to baby 1 and baby 2.

Four days after their birth and while they were still in the hospital, the babies fell ill. She said they were taken to ward 27 and placed in an incubator. According to the mother, the children had to share one incubator. “Doctors told the nurses to separate the twins and place them into two separate incubators, but the doctors’ orders were not followed,” she stated.

The report quotes the mother as saying that a few days later she went to feed the babies in the early hours of the morning. “I discovered that one of the twins was squeezed by the other twin against the incubator.” She said she called the nurse on duty, who “reluctantly” came to the nursery. The mother said by this time she had already taken the child out of the incubator and saw that it was not breathing.

She said she was told to leave the room and about half an hour later she received the news that her baby was dead. The staff tried to resuscitate the baby without success. The mother said the following day she was asked by a doctor if she wanted to have a post-mortem report. She agreed to this and signed the necessary forms.

But, the report says, the mother claimed that the hospital never came back to her, nor did it report the matter to the police for an inquest to be held to determine if anyone was liable for the baby’s death. She said that she and her parents reported the matter to the police and an inquest docket was opened. It is not known what happened to the inquest.

The report says the mother meanwhile blamed the hospital for the incident and said the baby died as a result of the negligence of the staff, as the twins should have never shared an incubator. According to her, the hospital should have guarded against the babies being injured. “They failed to monitor the babies and they dismally failed to place the babies into two separate incubators, as per the doctors’ instructions.” She added that the staff allowed the twins to become distressed and should have noticed that the one baby showed signs of severe distress.

The mother further complained that the health authorities allowed medical staff who were not suitably experienced and qualified to attend to her and the twins. She claimed R3.5m for general damages.

The report says the health authorities denied any knowledge of the incident, and did not accept liability. They said the mother had to prove her case. Meanwhile, the case was removed from the roll by Judge Natvarlal Ranchod as it was not ready to proceed.

[link url=""]Pretoria News report[/link]

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