Amputee Awarded Damages

A man whose leg was amputated was awarded damages by Judge Kobus Miller in the Windhoek High Court. Ivan Kasingo was shot in the upper part of his right leg with the bullet fracturing his right femur and causing some vascular injury, which obstructed blood flow to the injured limb.

The shooting happened in Luumlderitz on April 12, 2013 at around 04H00. He was first attended to by a certain Dr Marais in Luumlderitz who diagnosed the vascular injury, which required prompt action. It was then decided to airlift Kasingo to Windhoek for treatment. Upon his arrival at Katutura State Hospital he was seen by a certain Dr Domingos who did not treat the vascular injury and made a wrong diagnosis that Kasingo’s leg was warm with g pulses, while as a matter of fact it was cold with weak pulses.

After Kasingo was transferred to Windhoek Central Hospital and was attended to by a specialist surgeon it was discovered that the leg was in rigor mortis. It was however decided to try and repair the injured artery, but that attempt came to naught and as a result of the toxins from the dead tissue Kasingo became feverish and the leg had to be amputated to save his life.

Kasingo then instituted legal action against the Minister of Health and Social Services and the Superintendent of the Katutura State Hospital. The Minister opposed the claim and denied that there was negligence on the part of anybody who dealt with Kasingo while he was at the Katutura State Hospital. It was also denied that there was a connection between the conduct of the hospital’s staff and the amputation of Kasingo’s leg. In his judgment, Judge Miller said there was no doubt that the diagnosis by Dr Domingos was wrong, but that a wrong diagnosis does not necessarily mean negligence. The judge however found that there was a direct link between the wrong diagnosis of Dr Domingos and the amputation of the leg.

This he based on the evidence of Dr Nel, a specialist surgeon, who testified that if the vascular injury was treated in time it could have saved the leg of Kasingo. According to the judge the amputation became necessary simply because the surgery to repair the injured artery was performed too late. As a result, the judge said, the Minister was liable to compensate the plaintiff for such damages in such amount as may be agreed between the parties or determined by the court. The judge further ordered that the Minister pay the legal costs of Kasingo.

Source : New Era