Surgeon opens wrong patient's skull in Kenya

Medical malpractice
Brain operation of wrong patient (Representational picture) Reuters

A Kenyan surgeon performed a brain operation to remove a blood clot on a wrong patient and provided another example of medical negligence in front of the world.

The incident took place at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi, where the surgeon and his team opened a patient's skull to operate a clot but discovered that they operated a wrong man, as the medical staff had mixed up two patient's identity tags before the procedure.

According to Kenyan newspaper Daily Nation, the medical team needed to operate one patient, who had a clot and the other man required a brain surgery for swelling. After hours of the operation, the doctors came to know that they have done a mistake and operated another patient.

Both the patients were prepared for their operation and medical staff took them inside the operation room, with the name tags attached to their gowns. A source told the newspaper that before the operation there was no communication between the surgeon and the patient, as they started the procedure by analysing the medical chart.

Another doctor from the same hospital said that the nurse who prepared those patients for the surgery should be the main culprit of this incident, as she may have changed the gowns of two patients.

Even though medical negligence is common in today's world, such incidents have triggered huge concern among many. Some social media users have demanded the board members of the hospital to resign.

However, the CEO of the medical institution, Lily Koros Tare said on Thursday, March 1 that the hospital authority has suspended four medical staff, including the neurosurgeon, ward nurse, anaesthetist and the theatre receiving nurse for operating a wrong patient.

Sicily Kariuki, Kenyan Health Cabinet Secretary on Friday, March 2 has ordered the CEO and the director of clinical services at KNH to take compulsory leave for investigation purpose.

However, the patient who became the victim of medical negligence is in good condition and the other man who needed the surgery for removing the clot, may not require it as his health condition has improved significantly, said the hospital.

KNH authority, in its apology statement, said the medical centre has done all the required procedures to ensure the safety of their patients.

This article was first published on March 4, 2018