Health ministry faces N$541 945.80 lawsuit for alleged medical negligence

Hertta-Maria Amutenja

In a lawsuit filed by Foibe Kauikalelwa Israel against the Minister of Health and Social Services, the grieving mother seeks justice and compensation following a series of allegedly negligent actions that led to the death of her newborn baby during birth.

According to the particulars of the claim filed at the Windhoek High Court, Israel lodged a claim against the minister citing medical negligence.

The documents detail Israel’s visit to Katutura Intermediate Hospital in October 2021 for an antenatal follow-up when she was already 39 weeks pregnant.

She alleged that a medical team, headed by Doctor Nanghombe, opted for inducing labour, disregarding the potential risks associated with postdate polyhydramnios, a condition marked by an abnormal increase in amniotic fluid. “Upon admission, Plaintiff was informed by the nurses who attended to her that she was suffering from postdate polyhydramnios, which is defined as a pathological increase of amniotic fluid volume in pregnancy and is associated with increased perinatal morbidity and mortality.

After admission, the nurses proceeded to drain the excess fluid from the Plaintiff’s womb using a catheter On 22 October 2021. Plaintiff was administered with two doses of labour-inducing pills, firstly before she started experiencing contractions and went into labour, and secondly, after she was already in labour,” read the document. Despite experiencing excruciating pain and requesting a caesarean section, Israel was allegedly coerced into attempting natural birth.

The lawsuit contends that the medical staff failed to monitor complications arising from the induction and neglected to ensure a safe delivery pathway for the baby. Consequently, the newborn did not survive, leading to emotional and psychological distress for Israel.

“The Defendant’s employees failed to exercise due care and skill in the diagnosis, treatment, and method of delivery of the baby. The medical negligence pleaded above was the factual and proximate cause of the death of the Plaintiff’s baby,” the court document says.

In a secondary claim, Israel asserts that, while being prepared for an emergency caesarean section, she was instructed to remove her wedding ring, which was never returned. The document contends that due to the negligence of the medical staff, the defendant is also liable for the loss of the ring, with the replacement cost estimated at N$25,000.

Israel is seeking a total compensation of N$ 541 945.80, covering emotional distress, funeral costs, and the replacement value of her wedding ring.

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