In Kenya, there is strict regulation of the medical industry. However, there are many instances of medical negligence, and the majority of the at-fault medical professionals escape punishment.
A regulatory and legal structure is in place to resolve grievances against infringing medical professionals. The goal of this study is to evaluate how effective these frameworks are and see if they can be improved better.
Kenyatta National Hospital
On October 10, 2022, Baby Travis Maina was hit on the head with a fork jembe as he was playing with his siblings. He has later referred to Kenyatta hospital (KNH) from Thika Level 5 Hospital.
”I jumped on a motorbike and rushed Maina to Ndula Dispensary, but unfortunately, nothing was happening there, since Monday was a public holiday on 10th October. So we sought help from a local doctor who owns a pharmacy in the area. He detached the long wooden handle from the fork jembe so that we could fit in his small car, and he then rushed us to Thika Level 5 Hospital,” Njau, uncle to baby Travis, said.
Doctors at the Thika hospital referred the child to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) since they lacked the specialised equipment needed to handle the situation.
On arrival, they were asked to pay Ksh1,260 which Lucy Wambui, the mother of Travis Maina, paid. A few minutes later she was asked to pay another Ksh20,000 but she was not in a position to pay at the moment.
This forced her and the son to spend Monday night, October 10, and part of Tuesday, October 11, at the casualty section of the hospital.
Wambui claims her son died while waiting to be admitted and taken to the theatre.
”After paying the amount, we were told to pay an additional Ksh20,500 that we told them we could not raise and after we failed to raise the amount, we spent Monday night and part of Tuesday morning at the Casualty, where my son died while waiting to be admitted and taken to the theatre in the afternoon,” Wambui said.
Due to the lack of enough funds, Ms Muthoni blames the death of her son on the negligence of doctors and nurses at KNH.
”I blame them for the death of my son. They were more concerned about me raising Ksh20,500 to secure a bed than saving my son. I paid the price for being poor. My son was talking all through. His last request was water. I watched my son die because I did not have money. From Monday evening to Tuesday afternoon (we were) at Kenyatta National Hospital Casualty without being admitted.” the mother said.
Mama Lucy Hospital
In a different case, Mr Omondi and his wife arrived at the gates of mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital on September 6, 2022, ready to welcome their firstborn twins.
Trouble started at the gate when the guards refused to let Mr Omondi company his wife into the institution. The guards insisted Maureen should carry her two heavy bags alone. Mr Omondi stood at the gate and watched Maureen struggle to carry the heavy bags alone.
Initially, the two had been referred to the hospital by the Kayole DO Clinic. Maureen went into labour at 7 pm on September 6. She developed high blood pressure, which couldn’t stabilise at the time, leading to her being transferred to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital.
Mr Omondi forced his way into the Mama Lucy hospital but was told to leave. At this time Maureen’s blood pressure was still high and the nurse told them to wait.
On September 7, Mr Omondi arrived at the hospital and found his wife was about to be wheeled into the theatre for a caesarean section.
He later rushed home to put things in place. Around 8 am, a doctor called him and deliver the good news that his wife had delivered two healthy boys. However, the doctor did not mention anything about his wife’s condition.
He rushed to the hospital and found the babies together with the mother. Maureen requested her husband to attend to the babies because she was not in a position to do so.
Mr Omondi looked and discovered his wife was bleeding without any medicine flowing from the drip. He called the nurse, who didn’t attend to her. He notified the nurse severally, who ignored him and told him to handle it. He tried to attend to Maureen without knowing what to do; he removed the drip and tried to stop the bleeding with cotton.
He was later joined by Maureen’s elder sister, Ms Rose Otieno, who tried to look for help but found none. Fellow patients and their relatives joined in and raised their concerns, which landed on deaf ears.
The commotion drew the attention of a few doctors who attended to her. However Mr Omondi could hear Maureen screaming, later she was wheeled to the theatre.
At 4 pm, Mr Omondi was called and informed that his wife’s condition was worsening and that she needed three pints of blood. At 7 pm he was informed by the doctors that Maureen had been put on oxygen and had to be referred to another hospital.
The options on the table included Machakos Level Five Hospital and Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral, and Research Hospital, but he had to pay Ksh200,000 upfront to have his wife admitted to either hospital.
“When I said that I could not raise such a high amount of money, I was told to make calls and try to raise it. I called friends and relatives but nothing came out of the effort. After a few minutes, a nurse called me and told me they could look for a third option if there was no money,” Mr Omondi said.
Mr Omondi was informed that Kiambu Level Five Hospital had agreed to admit the patient without requiring a deposit. Even though it was already eight o’clock, they had to wait until an ambulance became available around midnight. Mr Omondi said that he had been denied access to his wife for the entire period.
“They bluntly instructed me to stop asking questions since they had everything under control. A second emergency patient was reportedly transported to Kenyatta National Hospital by ambulance,” he said. They were lost on their journey to Kiambu but arrived at 1.10 am on September 8.
“At the ICU, I saw and overheard the nurses arguing about the size of the oxygen pipe that had been used and how the patient had been handled. The Kiambu hospital nurses were showing the two young nurses from Mama Lucy who had accompanied me what they should have done. At that point I realised it might be over for her,” said Mr Omondi said
Maureen’s older sister, who was standing with the twins at Mama Lucy, and Mr Omondi were in constant contact throughout the time. Less than six hours later, his wife was pronounced dead.
The Senate has demanded the temporary closure of Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital due to several events and has accused the staff of incompetence.
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