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Doctor ‘not aware’ of new appointment at Kenyatta National Hospital as confusion reigns

By Paul Wafula | Published Sun, March 4th 2018 at 00:00, Updated March 3rd 2018 at 22:05 GMT +3

One of the doctors picked to head Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) is not aware of his new appointment in a new twist that shows the intrigues at the troubled referral hospital.

The Sunday Standard has learned from some sources that Dr John Ong’ech may not be interested in the position that is now seen as a graveyard for promising careers given the infighting and sabotage claims that have dogged the institution.

ALSO READ: KNH failed to adhere to WHO standards, report shows

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki announced on Friday that Dr Ong’ech, who is the Senior Medical specialist and Doctor Thomas Mutie will take over the running of the hospital after sending on leave Lily Koros and the Director Clinical Services following the brain surgery horror mix up. But the two yesterday said they had not taken over as no formal appointment had been made.

 “I cannot comment on the matter. I have also not received any formal appointment (letter) at this point which should come from the board,” Dr Ong’ech said on phone and directed us to speak to the board.

The KNH board was in a meeting whole day yesterday. 

“The board is the one to give direction and they are still in a meeting. You cannot go and start taking roles without knowing what you are doing. Lily Koros was still in the office today,” Dr Mutie said.

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Running the hospital is emerging as one of the toughest jobs for any medical professional in Kenya given the political interference as well as the boardroom battles.

Doctors have always wanted one of their own to head the institution. A section of politicians from the Rift Valley have also come to defend Koros, saying she was being targeted.

Kenyatta Hospital has in the recent weeks been hit by patient care crisis following complaints relating to patient safety, security of clients at the facility, and the latest matter in which the hospital management have admitted that an unknown patient underwent an unnecessary operation last week.

The patient who underwent the unintended brain surgery on Monday night had been dumped while unconscious at the referral hospital and tagged as an ‘unknown African man.’

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On the same day, yet another patient who had spent an unknown amount of time within the wards also with no known names nor identification documents and also tagged as an unknown male lay in his bed, bidding his time to get what could be a lifesaving operation.

One of the men was unconscious and the other barely coherent.

But as he waited, the theatre was readied and instructions from the team of specialists on standby reached the nurse, who mistakenly wheeled in the wrong patient, relegating the deserving man to another night of waiting and condemning the other to an unnecessary, painful and life threatening procedure.

But the fate of the patient who missed the operation is still unclear with conflicting reports. Health CS told journalists that both patients were fine. However a doctor has claimed that he was in critical condition and he may have had a brain freeze. There was also a family that claimed yesterday he had already passed on.

Meanwhile, blame games continued over the deadly mix up after nurses asked doctors to take responsibility for the erroneous operation. Yesterday, the National Nurses Association of Kenya asked doctors at KNH to stop blaming nurses for the surgery on the wrong patient.

 The nurses’ association said shifting the blame to nurses was an irresponsible way of handling the mistake. The association Chair Alfred Obengo threw a spanner in the works when he said a doctor is the one who decides whether or on a patient needs surgery and a doctor can only operate on a patient they have met.  

The Kenya Medical Association (KMA) also weighed in on the issue, asking for speedy investigations.

ALSO READ: Revealed: Night of wrong knives and unknown patients at KNH

“We acknowledge that grievous errors have occurred at Kenyatta National Hospital and an in-depth audit must be expeditiously conducted especially in the latest case in which a patient underwent unnecessary surgery allegedly due to misidentification,” Jacqueline Kituku, the KMA chair said.

KMA said the health professionals involved in the surgery should not however be condemned unheard even as they admitted that such a blunder pointed to a failure of patient management system.

The Health CS said the information available to her pointed to a possible case of serious medical malpractice or a medical error due to non-adherence to patient safety protocols.