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Woman given Sh54m for delivery mishap

By Kamau Muthoni | Published Fri, May 18th 2018 at 00:00, Updated May 17th 2018 at 21:36 GMT +3
The Nairobi Women's Hospital.The judge said plaintiffs should be compensated for injuries caused by the defendants.
[Jonah Onyango, Standard]

A woman has been awarded Sh54 million to compensate her for the negligence of a hospital during the delivery of her baby.

Due to the negligence, Purity Kemunto’s son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a condition that affects his ability to control his movements because damage to his brain has affected his development.

Ms Kemunto said that on May 27, 2007, she checked into Nairobi Women’s Hospital, expecting to go home with a healthy baby boy.

She said she visited the hospital’s ante-natal clinic during her pregnancy.

Without support

She claimed that a blunder by the hospital’s personnel ruined her son’s life as he could now not live without support.

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She told the court that the father of the child left when he realised that it would be expensive to look after the boy.

The court heard that a Dr Kagema had indicated that Kemunto was strong enough to have a normal delivery. Labour was later induced, but the baby was not ready to be born.

She said the doctor and the nurses left the delivery room without assigning someone to monitor her progress every 30 minutes.

Two days later, Justice Mbogholi Msagha heard, Kemunto had not given birth despite severe labour and persistent pleas that she be attended to.

In the afternoon of May 29, a doctor named in court document as Mutinda rushed her to the theatre and had her deliver through a caesarean section.

The first sign that all was not well was that the baby did not cry and could not breathe properly.

She was later told the baby had suffered birth asphyxia, a medical condition caused by lack of oxygen to a newborn during the birth process. It usually affects the brain.

“Had the labour been monitored the caesarean section would have been done well before 1pm. The baby would have been born healthy. Dr Kagema had erroneously insinuated that I had a pelvis that could deliver normally,” testified Kemunto.

“He has permanent brain damage. It has been nine years of suffering and great expenditure. The condition of the child led to the father walking out. I have been left to look after the child alone.”

The child was wheeled into the court on the first day of the hearing.

She called two witnesses - Prof Kiama Wangai and Prof Erastus Amayo - who testified that if the doctors had been diligent, the boy would have been born healthy.

Medical negligence

In her court papers, Kemunto had argued that the hospital and Dr Mutinda were guilty of medical negligence and failure to use reasonable care, skill and diligence in the manner in which they handled her.

The hospital brokered a deal with her that it admits 90 per cent liability and she gets 10 per cent blame.

Justice Mbogholi awarded Kemunto Sh60 million but deducted Sh6 million, which was apportioned to the 10 per cent liability.

“While I agree that the economic implications should be considered in making awards, the plaintiffs should be compensated for the injuries sustained as a result of the actions or omissions of the defendants.

“I watched the first plaintiff (Kemunto) giving evidence and observed her demeanour. To say she was in pain as a result of what she has gone through is an understatement,” said Justice Mbogholi.