HIV/Aids

21 January 2010

Woman infected with HIV by paramedic

A Bedfordview, Johannesburg woman was infected with HIV virus by a KwaZulu-Natal health department paramedic who attended to her, the Pietermaritzburg High Court said on Wednesday.

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A Bedfordview, Johannesburg woman was infected with HIV virus by a KwaZulu-Natal health department paramedic who attended to her, the Pietermaritzburg High Court said on Wednesday. 

The paramedic attended to the woman after he " worked on" a pedestrian who died when the woman's car crashed. 

The accident occurred near the Mooi River toll plaza on August 31, 2000. After the accident she was taken to the Pietermaritzburg Mediclinic with a head injury. She was discharged four days later.

Three Johannesburg doctors and two specialists estimated that she became infected about the time of the collision. 

'All precautions should have been taken'

Judge Shimon Patel said the health department paramedic had failed to perform the treatment of the woman with the degree of skill and care of a reasonable paramedical professional.  He failed to ensure that no contamination occurred in handling the dead pedestrian and the woman.

The paramedic should have known that with the high incidence of HIV and with two people with open bleeding wounds he should have foreseen the risk of cross-contamination of blood. He should have taken all precautions to avoid such contamination. 

Patel ordered that the health department be held liable for any damage the woman may be found to have suffered as a result of her contamination with the HIV virus. 

This case concerned only liability and not damage amounts. - (Sapa, January 2010)

 

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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