North West Health Department says the review of maternal and infant mortality cases has led to a sharp decline in medical negligence claims.
“The total number of new cases registered between January and June 2017 was 46, with a total of R378 868 540 claimed. Compared to the same period this year — January to June — there is a total of 37 claims and the amount claimed amounts to R147 673 733, which is a sharp decline comparatively,” said the provincial Health MEC Magome Masike.
Reviews of all maternal and infant mortality cases take place at the Provincial Mother, Child and Women Health (MCWH) Forum, which is a platform chaired by the MEC himself.
“I am pleased with the progress we are making, though I believe the opportunity still exists to do more. Since we began dealing with these cases directly at the MCHW Forum, we are beginning to see the difference.
“The forum affords health care practitioners and managers an opportunity to discuss and review causes of deaths, missed opportunities, avoidable factors and recommendations to prevent and avoid future occurrence and each of them accounts on the spot,” said Masike.
MEC Magome Masike said they have other plans to mitigate maternal and infant mortality, and this includes:
- A minimum of two emergency blood units must be available at all hospitals conducting deliveries.
- All obstetric and gynaecological specialists should refrain from telephonic orders and must respond immediately when called to see a patient.
- All obstetric and gynaecological specialist undergo the Essential Steps on Management of Obstetric Emergencies (ESMOE) training to acquire more skills.
- Junior doctors are monitored and coached when performing Caesarean Sections and are trained on caesarean section monographs.
- High risk patients are managed at an appropriate level of care.
Other intervention strategies include introducing quality improvement projects and ensuring that all health facilities have clinical guidelines, which the nurses and doctors can adhere to as a preventative measure.
A policy on Health Adverse Incidents Management has also been developed.
“The policy focuses on proactive management of patient safety by identifying causes and strategies for prevention. It also proposes redesigning organisational systems and behavioural choices based on learning through analysis of adverse incidents.
“We are doing the best possible to attend to all factors contributing to medical negligence claims. It is important to note that not all cases reported are concluded as cases of negligence. However, even if a case is concluded as a case of no negligence, the client may still complain that the service did not meet his/her expectations.
“Therefore, a case may be a case of no negligence and at the same time, be a case of poor quality service rendered,” said Masike.