Health professionals smacked on the wrist

Ina Skosana

Patient Jasper Hoon is critical about the low maximum sanction the council can administer on doctors who provide insufficient care.

Jasper Hoon.

Two Western Cape medical specialists have been found guilty of insufficient care and fined R15 000 each by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA), the body that regulates health professionals, for misdiagnosing a patient in April 2011.

The patient, businessperson Jasper Hoon, is not happy with the verdict. "I was told that this is the highest sanction that a doctor can get even if the patient dies of neglect," he said.

The ruling comes after Bhekisisa published a story on August 2 2013 about Hoon's criticism that the council was "dragging its feet" in handling grievances from the public against doctors.

His view was shared by a Mail & Guardian reader, "SR", who left the following comment on our online platform: "In my opinion, the HPCSA is slow and inefficient and gives their members the benefit of the doubt. It is simply not worthwhile complaining to them as they protect their members."

Hoon filed a complaint against an orthopaedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon who treated him for back pain after he had sought help for "crippling pain" in one of his legs. Months later Hoon was hospitalised and diagnosed with deep vein thrombosis, a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in one or more veins that are deep in the body, usually in the legs.

The delay in getting the correct treatment as a result of the misdiagnosis meant that Hoon risked losing his foot and has been in a wheelchair for almost two years after undergoing reconstructive surgery.

He says he incurred medical costs of over R1.5-million and lost at least two years of his working life. The development engineer has had to sell one of his businesses and is unable to work.

His civil claim, which was put on hold pending the council's decision, will now resume.

"My lawyers are busy finalising the details of my claim and then the subpoenas will be finalised," he said.

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