New dreams for possible victim of medical negligenceThe day Gershwin Fortune (26) was told that his leg would be amputated, after what seemed to be a mere dislocation, was the day he decided to make the best of the hand that life had dealt him. “Playing rugby has always been my passion”, says the father of 3 who has played this game since the early age of 6. In 2014 he started playing club rugby for Goodwood.
Accidents happenIt was during a friendly game in Greyton on 10 March 2018 that his life changed forever. Shortly after the game commenced at 16:00 he was tackled and broke his leg badly. The first aider on duty could not assist and an ambulance was called and arrived 30 minutes later. He was then transported to the state hospital in Caledon where he arrived at approximately 17:30. At almost 19:00 that evening he was given a general anaesthetic in order to try and re-align his leg. He only woke up at about 21:00 that evening to find that his leg was heavily bandaged. He was then told that his leg could not be relocated and that he was being transferred to Worcester hospital for surgery. At 23:00 that evening almost 7 hours after the initial injury took place, he was taken into theatre for a procedure that took 6 hours to perform. The surgeon visited him the Monday and informed him that they could not completely repair the blood flow to his leg and that there is a chance that he might lose his leg. The Dr explicitly told him (Gershwin) that if he only arrived an hour earlier, they could probably have saved his leg. He underwent another round of surgery that same day and recuperated for a week, after which he was informed that sadly his leg would have to be amputated. His first response was shock, as he would not be able to play rugby again. He was employed as a Process Operator at Clover, and also worried about providing for his family since his job required physical labour and he worked a lot of overtime. He was discharged and spent a month and a half at home.
A time for adjustmentDuring this time, he had to come to terms with the fact that his life would never be the same. He would never play ball with his 8-year old daughter and 5-year old son again. He had a new-born to take care of and he had to learn to drive an automatic car and to walk with crutches until his leg healed sufficiently to receive a prosthetic limb. Yet, Gershwin decided to make the best of what life had dealt him. He joined the Paralympic athletics team at Maties in the javelin, shot put and discus categories. Even though he cannot play rugby anymore he remains involved as a coach at the Goodwood Rugby Club, coaching the 0/20 team. He wants to remain as independent as possible, yet the stark reality is that he requires help with menial tasks such as carrying things around or going to the store. A case of medical negligence is currently being investigated by Simpsons Attorneys in Bellville in order to claim for his pain and suffering, loss of income as well as future medical needs. This will include prosthetics and physiotherapy. Gershwin also states that he would like to join a medical aid as to not be at the mercy of a state hospital in future.
Medical negligenceWith serious consequences for both the patient and their families, medical negligence is an area of Personal Injury Law, which is fast becoming more and more important in South Africa. The decline in the level of healthcare in South Africa is further contributing to malpractice. Each case for medical negligence is unique and a claim will be dependent on several important factors, such as:
- The definition of medical negligence in terms of the Law
- The severity of the injury
- Whether the duty on the part of the medical practitioner was properly performed
- Whether there was sub-standard care provided to a patient, where the patient suffered an injury or loss as a result
- Whether the medical assistance provided was in line with the standards of good practice in South Africa.