A carpenter who developed bedsores while in a coma through being left unattended by nursing staff has been awarded R3.3-million by the East London High Court.
Judge Bantubonke Tokota granted the order despite the Eastern Cape department of health saying all the necessary medical treatment had been administered to him.
Philbert Njike, 44, was admitted at Frere Hospital in East London in September 2009 with an acute brain condition that left him bedridden.
Njike’s attorney IC Clark Inc took the department to court after accusing hospital staff and the provincial MEC of health of “breach of duty care”.
“In breach of their duty care, the MEC’s employees acting in their course and scope of their employment were negligent in one or all of the following respects; they failed to take steps to prevent the plaintiff developing bedsores while in a coma and persistent vegetative state and failed to care for [Njike]. They failed to change on a regular basis [Njike’s] bed linen, to wash or regularly change his position and they failed to treat the bedsores and failed to render [Njike] proper out-patient care in respect of the treatment of bedsores,” the attorneys wrote to the court.
In its defence, the department said Njike was admitted at Frere on September 9 2009, for the treatment of viral meningitis and was discharged on September 14 2009.
The department said Njike was re-admitted on September 29 2009 where he underwent brain surgery and remained bedridden for nine months until he was discharged in May 2010.
“The debridement was conducted and repair of bilateral hip bedsores was done. During the entire nine months stay he had continuous physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nutritional support from dieticians,” the department said.
However, Tokote found in favour of Njike. The money will be used for his future medical expenses.
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said Njike demanded R5-million from the department.
“We defended the matter until it was settled at R3.3-million,” Kupelo said.
Njike referred questions to his lawyers. His lawyer, Stuart Clark said: “The award is fair in light of the damages suffered by Mr Njike and justice has been served.” — firstname.lastname@example.org