The provincial health department has begun clamping down on negligence by doctors and nurses at state hospitals, with a focus on maternity wards.
The Gauteng health department has implemented measures to limit medical negligence at its facilities, MEC Hope Papo said on Monday.
The department had focused on maternal care because most of the negligence cases occurred during childbirth, according to Papo.
"The department has begun the process of reviewing the midwifery practice standards to prevent further litigations and we are doing everything in our power to ensure that all public health facility users are not injured or harmed through the negligence of our staff."
Ongoing training was being provided at all facilities to improve attitudes and communication between staff and patients.
The department trained 188 doctors and 203 nurses in the 2012-2013 financial year to manage obstetric emergencies. Nurses were trained to use early warning charts.
In 2012, the department trained 120 nurses in midwifery, while 79 received training in advanced midwifery and neonatology.
Increased chances of survival
The training of nurses on neonatal resuscitation was done to improve the survival of babies and prevent injuries.
Papo said the department was in the process of establishing a multidisciplinary committee to consider preventative measures to curb the recurrence of serious adverse events.
Complaints included allegations of negligence, sexual assault, suicide and attempted suicide. Others were skills gaps, systems failure and errors.
"In the year 2012, 373 cases were recorded and between January and September last year, 532 cases were recorded. The majority of these cases were from our central hospitals – Chris Hani Baragwanath, 39; Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg, 25; Dr George Mukhari, 16; and Steve Biko Pretoria, seven," he said.
All reported cases were taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.
"Upon completion of investigations, the normal disciplinary procedures are followed," he said.
Some cases were referred to the South African Police Service and other statutory bodies for further investigation and recommendations.
Gauteng Democratic Alliance health spokesperson Jack Bloom said special attention should be given to hospitals with a high number of serious adverse events.
"It is of great concern that negligence cases are rising rapidly," Bloom said. – Sapa