Litigation: Inappropriate treatment led to finger amputation – ruling

Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) Judge Harshila Kooverjie has ruled in favour of a woman whose wedding ring finger was amputated after it was bitten during an armed robbery in January 2016. A TimesLIVE report says the woman – named as AW Malan in the judgment – sued Dr Francois du Toit Inc, an emergency medicine healthcare organisation, for R2m, alleging it had not adequately treated the bite wound. After she was treated for various injuries, she was issued a prescription. In March 2017, her ring finger was amputated. The woman sued Dr Francois du Toit Inc and said it had wrongfully and negligently breached its legal duty. The claim of R2m was for hospital expenses, future loss of earning capacity and general damages.

At the start of the trial, the parties agreed the court should deal with the merits of the claim, and not the amount of damages. Kooverjie said Malan's testimony on the disclosure of the bite was corroborated by her husband. The judge said she had found that it was highly probable that the disclosure of the bite was made, hence the treatment was not appropriate. ‘Consequently, the defendant has wrongfully and negligently breached its legal duty,’ Kooverjie said. She said the expert report by the healthcare organisation said a human bite required concerted treatment. This included prophylactic antibiotics, hospitalization, intravenous antibiotics, and debridement. ‘Therefore, had the appropriate treatment been administered, the circumstances Mrs. Malan found herself in could have been avoided.’ Kooverjie ordered the healthcare organisation to pay Malan's proven damages.

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