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Woman sues doctor, hospital for being kept hungry before surgery

By Paul Ogemba | Published Thu, June 14th 2018 at 00:00, Updated June 13th 2018 at 23:45 GMT +3
Doctors inside a theatre during surgery. [Photo: Courtesy]

In summary

  • Woman files suit over pre-surgery hunger session
  • Hospital denies violating patient’s rights
  • She says doctor subjected her to inhuman treatment and still failed to show up for operation

On many occasions, doctors advice patients not to take food or drink a night before a medical surgery.

According to medical experts, skipping meals before surgery is a normal precautionary procedure to cushion patients against side effects likely to be felt during the operation if the stomach is full.

However, one woman has not taken it lightly and has sued a city hospital and a doctor for making her spend the entire day hungry in preparation for surgery, which eventually did not take place.

Miriam Said Amin claimed that Guru Nanak Hospital and Dr Joshua Mwangi subjected her to inhuman and degrading treatment when they instructed her not to eat to prepare for medical tests for her bloated stomach.

“Their neglect subjected me to unwarranted suffering and mental anguish. I dutifully obeyed the doctor’s instructions to abstain from food and drink the whole night and persevered hunger the following day, but the doctor failed to show up,” swore Amin.

Amin said she visited Guru Nanak Hospital on February 11, 2016, complaining of recurring bloated belly, where Dr Mwangi examined her before taking blood and stool samples for tests.

She said on February 25, 2016, Dr Mwangi informed her that the laboratory tests did not reveal anything, but recommended further endoscopy and colonoscopy tests on February 27.

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“He prescribed some medication, which he said would cause my stomach to run continuously, and advised me not to take any food or drink from the afternoon of February 26, until he performs the tests the following day,” said Amin.

On the appointed day, she reported to the hospital at 7am. The nurses prepared and admitted her to wait for the doctor. That marked the beginning of her long wait, which lasted nine hours. Dr Mwangi did not show up.

However, the doctor, a consultant surgeon, has denied neglecting the patient and wants the petition dismissed on grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear any disciplinary case against medical practitioners.


He denied neglecting Amin, stating that he had an emergency to attend to in another hospital.

He added that Amin’s condition was elective and did not require any emergency treatment. The doctor said her claims of delay and being kept hungry did not amount to degradation of her dignity.

The hospital, also in their response, denied violating the patient’s rights, arguing that there were many others who go without food for many hours waiting to be treated, but none had ever filed such claims.

“The delay was not intentional but due to a medical emergency which the doctor was attending in another hospital,” swore Dr Tom Otieno.

Lady Justice Wilfrida Okwany set the hearing date for September 26.

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