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Kenyan hospitals not safe for patients, survey shows

By Gatonye Gathura | August 10th 2015

Your safety cannot be guaranteed in a majority of medical facilities in the country, according to a damning report published by the Ministry of Health.

Only 13 hospitals out of 493 public and private health facilities in 29 counties surveyed achieved a score greater than one on an ascending scale of 0-3.

Paralysed children from Busia begin treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital.  The report on safety at hospitals emerges on the back of the Ministry of Health's admission that human error was responsible for the paralysing of the 28 children in Busia County who fell sick after a vaccination gone awry.


According to the Kenya Patient Safety Survey 2014 published by the Ministry of Health in February, this has resulted in numerous cases of medical negligence that have in some instances caused families anguish after losing their loved ones.

Details of the report emerged on the back of the Ministry of Health's admission that human error was responsible for the paralysing of 28 children in Busia County who fell sick after a vaccination gone awry.

According to Health Executive Morris Simiyu, medical malpractices may have been committed.

Of the 13 that scored more than one, says the report, 11 were private hospitals while only two were from the public sector.

"Overall safety compliance was relatively poor, with less than one per cent of public facilities and only about two per cent of private facilities achieving a score greater than one in all five areas of risks assessed," says the survey.

For example, less than six per cent of public hospitals achieved a score greater than one in having a competent and capable workforce.

In the survey by the Ministry of Health, the World Bank, the World Health Organisation and the Danish SafeCare-PharmAccess, less than 10 per cent achieved a score greater than one in providing safe clinical care to patients.

Clinical care of patients was one of the five risk areas assessed and covered the safety of injections and medications, among others.

And 87 per cent of public hospitals did not have a system in place for the safe use of medicine, which was reflected in the private sector.

The ministry suggests county health facilities, as a start, adopt simple, cheap but effective intervention such as hand washing after every activity and procedure.

Training curricula

As a long-term solution, the survey suggests a change in the health training curricula to include patient safety and continuous professional development.

At the weekend, Director of Medical Services Nicholas Muraguri hinted on a possible review of the training of nurses countrywide.

"The nurse who treated the Bungoma children showed limited knowledge on the treatment guidelines for malaria in children," Dr Muraguri told The Standard.

The Ministry of Health has already prepared a Continuing Professional Development regulatory framework, which is mandatory for all working medical professionals in the country.

According to Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, every medical professional will be expected to put in at least 40 hours in on-job training annually.

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