Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
A Harare man has been awarded $20 000 compensation for taking wrong quantities of medicine after a pharmacist at a private clinic negligently mislabelled the sachets of the prescribed medication, resulting in him suffering acute kidney injuries.
Mr Robert Green visited Albert Zinn Medical Centre seeking treatment for gastroenteritis but was incorrectly given an overdose of ciprofloxacin tablets.
Ciprofloxacin tablets are used for the treatment of severe bacterial infections.
They only work with specific strains of bacteria.
Wrong quantities can be fatal or have long-term negative impact on a patient’s health. Mr Green sued his medical practitioner Dr Anthony Hardcombe and his clinic trading as Albert Zinn Medical Centre along with pharmacist Zivai Mapenda, for negligence in a High Court claim demanding US$70 000 in damages for pain and suffering plus medical expenses.
However, Justice Happias Zhou reduced the claim and awarded Mr Green $20 000, which he ruled would sufficiently compensate the man for damages suffered.
The judge said since no scales exist by which pain and suffering could be measured, the quantum of compensation to be awarded could only be determined by the broadest general considerations.
“In settling for that amount, I have taken into account the suffering which the plaintiff went through . . . including the failure to pass urine, acute kidney injury, the forms of treatment which he had to undergo, and the fact that his condition was life threatening,” said Justice Zhou.
Mr Green was a patient of Dr Hardcombe. In April 2015, Mr Green who was complaining of gastroenteritis, was attended by Dr Hardcombe.
The doctor prescribed Secnidazole and 500mg of ciprofloxacin.
According to the prescription, Secnizadole was meant to be taken as a single dose while the 500mg of ciprofloxacin was supposed to be consumed over five days.
After being attended by the doctor, Mr Green proceeded to the in house pharmacy on the instruction of the doctor, where he was given the two sets of tablets.
However, Mr Mapenda who dispensed the tablets mislabelled the sachets, a finding which the court made.
“The mislabelling was due to the negligence of the second defendant who ought to have exercised care in fixing the labels,” said Justice Zhou.
Both Dr Hardcombe and his pharmacist denied any liability. But the court found the former liable for negligence on the grounds of the doctrine of vicarious liability, which makes an employer liable for loss caused by his or her employee while acting within the course and scope of employment.