Articles

The tragedy of medical negligence and the pain it brings

By Jane Beatrice Obila

Many cases of medical negligence have been in the past reported in Kenya. It is a situation where a healthcare provider fails to act by the standard of reasonable competent care provider at the time he/she delivers health services to the patient. World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that medical negligence tragically kills 2.6 million people globally every year.

Some women have reportedly bled to death after giving birth as a result of poor medical care by doctors attending to them. Not forgetting the Kakamega twins’ story who were separated at the hospital their mother gave birth to them.

It is also sad that there are patients who have been taken to the mortuary alive after the hospital they were being nursed at pronounced them dead only to be found alive by the morgue attendants. Most of these patients don’t make it even when they are taken back to the hospital. Do you remember Peter Kigen’s story who was stored alive in the mortuary only to scream when embalming was being conducted on him?

The substandard care that is provided by a medical professional to a patient has directly caused injury and makes the existing condition of a patient worse. According to WHO, over 138 million patients are harmed by doctors’ errors annually.

Misdiagnosis, incorrect treatment, and surgical mistakes which most if not all have been reported in the country are some of the ways medical negligence occurs.

It is time all healthcare providers work according to guidelines provided for the medical practitioners and promote consideration of values in the prioritization and justification of actions by health professionals. Article 43 of the Constitution stipulates that everyone has a right to receive the best standards of healthcare services.

The article further states that no one should be denied emergency healthcare services even when they are unable to pay.  Sadly, such has been witnessed in Kenya and no action is taken despite the common belief that life is sacred and each life should be protected at all costs

The medical negligence story is in the public domain, some hospitals are ordered by the court to compensate the family of the victim but that cannot bring the dead back to life. Losing a loved one is very painful, and it is time health practitioners we trust with our lives during sickness treat us well as trained. Most of these cases have even occurred in the largest referral public hospital with well-trained personnel in Kenya.

Healthcare providers should keep full, accurate, and legible medical records and confirm laboratory diagnoses before prescribing any drug to patients to prevent any issue of medical negligence. The government should also move swiftly and firmly to deal with medical quacks promoting fraudulent medical practices and be responsible for these kinds of negligence.

Healthcare providers found guilty of medical negligence should have their license withdrawn to prevent the vice. Let’s make Kenya a safe place for everyone.

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