maternal deaths

When a mother-to-be dies during childbirth, it’s devastating for those left behind. It’s even more tragic if the loss is due to medical negligence and could have been prevented.

In this article, we consider the high rate of maternal deaths in South Africa. We also cover personal injury claims for maternal deaths caused by medical negligence or malpractice.

South Africa’s high maternal mortality rate

Even with competent medical care, serious complications can occur during pregnancy or childbirth.

In South Africa, however, a startling number of maternal deaths in state hospitals (especially tertiary hospitals) occur as a result of medical negligence.

The Foundation for Professional Development estimates that 40% of maternal deaths in South Africa are related to community, administrative and clinical failures.

One of the factors may be the sharp rise in caesarean sections (C-sections). A significant proportion of personal injury claims for maternal deaths involve C-section complications.

In state hospitals, C-sections are often performed by inexperienced doctors.

An article in the South African Medical Journal states that maternal deaths due to C-sections were preventable in 71% of cases.

Medical malpractice is also a significant cause of other types of birth injuries to mother and child.

The maternal mortality rate is slowly improving

While the maternal mortality rate remains abnormally high in South Africa, there is some cause for optimism.

A recent report published in the South African Medical Journal states that maternal deaths in public health hospitals have decreased by 29% (almost a third) over the past seven years.

Steps are being taken to ensure safer births.

Non-governmental organisations are helping. MSD for Mothers, a US$500-million global initiative dedicated to creating a world where no lives are lost during childbirth, recently funded an emergency workers’ training programme.

In 2019, MSD for Mothers awarded a grant for nurse training.

Progress is being made. Nonetheless, with 134 maternal deaths occurring per 100 000 live births in public health facilities, it’s evident that our hospitals have a problem.

Submitting personal injury claims for maternal deaths

Each year, doctors and hospital staff in South Africa make serious errors that lead to injuries and deaths.

Where mothers-to-be lose their lives as a result of negligence, the responsible medical professionals and/or hospitals could be liable.

They may be required to pay compensation to the victim’s family.

Similarly, if an infant is seriously injured due to medical negligence, the parents may sue on his or her behalf.

However, personal injury claims for maternal deaths are complex and require expertise. It’s vital to have a specialist legal team on your side.


Contacting a medical negligence attorney

At DSC Attorneys, our attorneys and medico-legal team have extensive experience in handling personal injury claims for maternal deaths.

We can assess your claim, help prepare supporting evidence and represent you in legal proceedings. We work on a no-win, no-fee basis and give you the best chance of receiving compensation.

Contact us at DSC Attorneys for the very best legal support and representation.

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