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Man, 54, Wins Case Against Ministry Over Amputation

Man, 54, Wins Case Against Ministry Over Amputation
December 05
15:20 2017

A 54-year-old man has won a claim of medical negligence against the Ministry of Health after the High Court in Suva awarded him $62,250 in costs for his suffering.

Saukat Ali alleged that on March 29, 2012, two toes on his right foot were amputated at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital as a result of negligence by a health centre doctor and nurse.

Mr Ali claimed damages for loss of his past and future earnings as a bus driver, loss of amenities and cost of future care.

The particulars of the negligence provide that the doctors had failed to examine Mr Ali’s wound, investigate his complaints and take steps to ensure that his condition did not deteriorate.

He also claimed that the medical attendants failed to provide proper treatment and refer him to the CWM Hospital at the initial stage on March 22 and 26.

The statement of claim also alleged that the wound on Mr Ali’s big toe had burst open and he was admitted to the CWM Hospital again, leading to the amputation as he was not properly treated.

In their statement of defence, the Ministry denied the allegations and stated that Mr Ali was unaware that he had stepped on a crooked rusty nail for 12 hours.

He had removed the nail from his foot and visited a health centre and was seen by the medical attendant.

A few days later he returned and his wound was treated by a nurse.

On both occasions his wound was examined and treated and he was given medication.

The ministry also said that Mr Ali’s amputation was necessary to save his life as his foot had become infected with diabetes sepsis and it was necessary to prevent it from spreading to the rest of his foot or body.

Mr Ali admitted that he stepped on a nail on the night of March 21, 2012 and he only became aware of it the next morning after which he immediately went to the health centre.

The doctor did not physically touch or feel Mr Ali’s foot but only examined it from a distance.

A physical exam of the foot would have given the doctor a more informed assessment about Mr Ali’s condition as a hypertension and diabetic patient.

The medication prescribed to him was also not proper and suitable as it was prescribed to him again during his second visit when there was no improvement in his condition.

In his evidence the doctor said that there was no need for extensive treatment as there were no signs of infection in Mr Ali’s wound adding that specific medications are given depending on the appearance of the wound.

He said a physical examination of the wound was not necessary because at that stage only wound care was required.

Further, the doctor denied that his failure to diagnose Mr Ali’s condition led to the amputation of his toes and that he breached his duty of care.

He also reiterated that the wound was not infected at the time he attended to Mr Ali.

Judge Justice Brito Mutunayagam inferred that the failure of the two health centre medical attendants to prescribe medication to lower Mr Ali’s high blood sugar level led to the deterioration of his condition which resulted in the amputation.

The defendants were also ordered to pay Mr Ali $2500 as costs.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce


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