FS woman waits 4 years for medical negligence pay out after ‘out of court settlement’ 

Medical examination report and stethoscope on white desktop

Kgantse Mongadi, 52, from Hlohlolwane in the eastern Free State has been waiting four years for a medical negligence payout from the province. 

The amount running in the millions of rands was apparently awarded to her, after her cerebral cord was damaged during a surgery to remove a lump from her back. Mongadi says the 2020 operation was painful and left her wheelchair bound. 

“After the operation I instituted legal proceedings against the hospital and the Department of Health for the negligence that resulted in me not being able to walk, and also loss of income because I’m no longer able to work,” Mongadi explains.

She says the Department of Health opted to resolve the matter outside of court in 2021 with an offer that ran into millions of rands, which she accepted. (Health-e was unable to obtain or view the signed deal). But she has yet to be paid.

“They have been taking their time, and I continue to suffer as a result of the incident. I was told it would take a month or two before I’d be paid from the time I signed the deal,” she explains.  

Instead, Mongadi says that she has been sent from pillar to post when she’s trying to get answers. “I have been to the provincial headquarters at Bophelo House many times without any help. I’m struggling to survive with no money for my treatment [which is regular physiotherapy and orthopaedic treatment].” 

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Free State Department of Health spokesperson Mondli Mvambi says Mongadi must go back to her legal team and inquire.

“I can’t comment on legal issues, but I believe the victim should involve her legal team to find out what could’ve happened,” he says.

But the attorneys who represented her in the case against the department closed shop in 2022 following the death of the owner. At this stage, Mongadi doesn’t even know if any payment was made at all. 

For guidance on the matter, Health-e news spoke with Advocate Luke Pistorious of the Free State Society of Advocates on what happens if a company director dies as alleged in Mongadi’s story.

”Some of the other directors in the firm will sort out his/her outstanding cases. We are advocates and we get instructions from attorneys only.” Pistorius also urged the involvement of the Legal Practise Council.

A second legal practitioner we approached, Advocate Tau Tsolo from Tsolo Incorporated, says Mongadi should meet with her local hospital where her first complaint was filed and request an appointment with the hospital’s legal unit.

“The closure of a practice is not a closure of services or cases. There are media notices that companies make in newspapers if they are to move, and give clients directions as to what will be happening,” he explains. This doesn’t seem to have happened in Mongadi’s case. 

Patients suing the government over medical negligence at public health facilities has become a regular feature in South Africa’s health landscape.  

In the Free State alone, R2.48 billion was paid out between 2020 and 2023 in medical negligence claims.

“Medico-legal claims are a challenge we face because doctors are human beings; now and then they commit mistakes that result in litigation,” Health MEC, Mathabo Leeto, said earlier this year in an address to the provincial legislature. 

Another increasing trend when it comes to medico legal claims settlements is lawyers being accused of defrauding their clients of these payouts. For example, in August 2023 News24 reported that the Legal Practice Council was investigating 14 lawyers in the Eastern Cape over the management of multi million-rand medical negligence settlements. – Health-e News


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