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Amputee’s case takes new twist

by Lesotho Times
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MASERU – The state has filed an appeal against a High Court judgment that awarded M450 000 in damages to a woman whose leg was amputated at a Bloemfontein hospital 10 years ago.

‘Mammutsoe Nteso, 48, successfully sued Queen Elizabeth II Hospital last year alleging that doctors at the hospital had misdiagnosed her.

Apart from Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Nteso also sued the Ministry of Health and the Attorney General Tsokolo Makhethe for gross negligence.

In a scathing judgment delivered in December High Court Judge A M Hlajoane said doctors at Queen II were negligent in their treatment of Nteso.

As a result of the negligence Nteso’s leg had to be amputated when she was transferred to Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Justice Hlajoane awarded Nteso M200 000 for loss of amenities, M200 000 for the pain and suffering that she endured and M50 000 for disfigurement.

But in a new twist to the case the state has appealed against the judgment at the Court of Appeal of Lesotho.

The state says the High Court judge erred when she found that the appellant’s doctors were negligent in the treatment of Nteso.

It says Nteso had failed to prove her case alleging that doctors were negligent

“The learned judge erred, in the circumstances of the case, in holding that, failure by the doctor to tell respondent that she had to go for physiotherapy immediately after consultation, was a negligent conduct,” the state says.

The state is also arguing that the judge erred in “attributing in the blame on appellant’s doctors for the fact that respondent only attended physiotherapy after about three days from the date of the consultation.”

It says evidence before court showed that respondent became aware that she had to attend physiotherapy on the same days that she went for consultation.

The state also argues that the judge erred and misdirected herself in holding that had respondent gone for physiotherapy the same day she first consulted the doctor her leg would not have been amputated.

It says the judge erred in concluding that Nteso’s leg had to be amputated “because of mismanagement of her leg when (she) had high risk factors (diabetes and hypertension which were not properly controlled)”.

The state says these factors “on their own, could lead to development of gangrene which would necessitate amputation.”

It also says the judge erred in holding the appellants liable for an operation that was carried at Universitas Hospital in Bloemfontein where the respondent was merely referred to by appellants.

The Court of Appeal is still to set a date to hear the case.

Reacting to the appeal this week Nteso said: “I am disappointed. They want to refuse to pay me even though the doctor admitted in court that they misdiagnosed me.”

Nteso said the state was playing delaying tactics to drive her into despair.

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