It’s a miracle that 52 year old Pearl Jason is alive today, a medical expert says. But Jason lived to tell her tale and has instituted a, R1.95million Western Cape High Court action against the Minister of Defence after complications from a minor surgical procedure left her fighting for her life in the intensive unit of Wynberg’s 2 Military Hospital for a month.
Jason, of Walmer Estate, is suing the Defence Minister because the department funds and manages the hospital. According to the court papers, Jason was admitted to the hospital on November 14, 2005 for a laparoscopy. An ovarian cyst was identified and drained, and she was moved to a ward for recovery but during Jason’s stay in the hospital word, she started to experience abdominal pain, vomiting, a drop in blood pressure and an increase in pulse rate.
Doctors provisionally diagnosed her as having a bowel perforation, but said surgery was not urgent. There were no improvements in her condition the next day and Jason eventually underwent surgery, during which the bowel perforation was confirmed and corrected. After two hours in surgery, the papers say, she was transferred to the ICU, where her battle started. Hospital staff treated her for circulatory failure, respiratory failure, renal failure, pneumonia, fluid around her lungs and pelvic fluid collections.
Being in hospital for a month causes her to miss a planned holiday to Europe for which she had paid. She was able to return to work only on April 19 the following year. Now Jason will go to court to attempt to prove allegations that hospital staff failed to diagnose and treat the bowel perforation timeously. She also say they neglected to pay heed to her complaints and symptoms, by calling a surgeon to reassess her.
Jason further claims that staff ought to have performed tests to accurately assess her condition. As a result of this, according to Jason, she had an extended confinement in hospital and suffered multiple organ failure, septicaemic shock, pain and emotional distress. An attached report by medical expert Marthinus De Kock says bowel perforation is a common complication of a laparoscopic procedure. But his opinion is that the ward care at the hospital was extremely poor and not in accordance with the standard of care reasonably required by medical staff.
De Kock added in his report that there were no fewer than 10 entries in the clinical notes on her deterioration condition, and an “unique delay “in treating Jason’s complications. He said it was a “miracle” that she survived. According to the papers, Jason will need counseling, ongoing treatment for the consequences of her multiple organ failure, and speech therapy.
The minister has, however denied the allegations, saying in responding papers that hospital staff took all the necessary reasonable steps to attend to Jason. Jason’s attorney, Tzvi Brivik, refuses to comment on the pending case, but confirmed that it was enrolled for March 9.