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(Reuters) - Overworked South African doctors are prone to botched surgical operations and in some instances have left gloves and scissors in patients' bodies after operations, the Sunday Independent newspaper reported.

The paper's investigations showed such acts of negligence have cost the state over 1 billion rand ($136.1 million) in law suits in the last two years, prompting Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi to seek investigations into what lay behind them.

"We have heard about cases in which operations have been done on patients and they had surgical gloves, or in some cases, scissors left inside them, both in private and public hospitals," the Sunday Independent quoted Fidel Hadebe, Mostoaledi's spokesman as saying.

The paper said a critical shortage of doctors in South Africa, the continent's largest economy, resulted in a doctor patient ratio of 1-4,000, forcing doctors to work long hours.

South Africa Medical Association chairman Norman Mabasa told the paper that even if all doctors in the private sector were placed in public health institutions, South Africa would still fall short of World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

"As a result doctors are overworked. Any exhausted doctor will make mistakes. It is human nature to make mistakes when you have not had a break," Mabasa said.

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