Court gives woman Sh25.6m for hospital delivery gone bad

Lucy Kinya at a Meru law court on September 19, 2019. The court awarded her Sh25.6 million after a caesarean birth operation left her paralysed on both legs. [Darlington Manyara, Standard]
A woman who was paralysed on both legs after a caesarean delivery three years ago was yesterday awarded Sh25.6 million by a court.

In the ruling delivered by Meru presiding judge Alfred Mabea, the court found the hospital culpable for negligence.

Lucy Kinya had sued St John of God Hospital-Tigania, through its administrator- the Catholic Diocese of Meru Trustees, in a plaint dated September 18, 2017.

According to Kinya, on June 25, 2016, she delivered twins through a caesarean section at the hospital.

In the course of the operation, she told the court, she suffered a spinal injury occasioned by negligence of the hospital or its employees.

In its defense, the hospital denied that it was vicariously liable for the actions of unnamed doctors and staff.

The hospital also denied the particulars of injuries, allegations of the breach of duty of care and the particulars of special damages and future expenses claimed by Kinya.

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However, the judge ruled in Kinya's favour after considering the accounts of several witnesses, among them medical experts who were cross-examined in court and who attended to Kinya after her ordeal.

Kinya had called three witnesses while the hospital called one.

She told the court that while at the hospital’s theatre, she was given four injections on her spine at 8am, and regained consciousness at about 5pm. But when she tried to rise, she realised she could not walk.

She testified that her lower limbs had turned black and could not move, and that when she told the doctors about it, they told her it was not serious.

According to Kinya, no further medical attention was given to her at the facility after that, and she was informed that she would begin physiotherapy at a later date. She thereupon asked to be discharged.

On June 29, 2016, Kinya was transferred to Meru Level Five Hospital, where she was referred to Kenyatta National Hospital. Here, tests revealed that she had sustained an injury in the spine.

According to court documents seen by The Standard, Kinya had gone into labour early in the morning and was taken into theatre for an emergency operation as one of the babies was in breech position.

Among the witness called by Kinya was Dr Koome Guantai, a medical officer at the Meru Level Five Hospital. He told the court that he examined Kinya and found that she had sustained spinal injury during the emergency caesarean surgery.

The doctor said on examination, Kinya had paralysis of both lower limbs and total loss of sensation and bladder control.

The court further heard that after the caesarean surgery, Kinya lost bowel control and had to wear adult diapers round the clock.

Another witness, Charles Wangai, who is an assistant chief physiotherapist, testified that he had been attending to Kinya and that his preliminary assessment when he first examined her on July 11, 2016 was that both of her limbs were paralysed.

“She had sores on her buttocks. She had bilateral feet drops, stiff ankle and knee joints, and stiffness on hip joints. She was permanently immobilised on a wheel chair,” the physiotherapist told the court.

Awarding her the damages, Judge Mabea ruled that Kinya had proved her case to the required standards and that she had been badly treated by the hospital. He found that Kinya was injured at the facility and that the injury was as a result of direct trauma to the spine. 

“The evidence on record is clear and undisputed that on the material day, the plaintiff presented herself at the first defendant’s facility for delivery. She was in good health. From the medical records…the plaintiff did not have any other complaint when she presented herself for delivery," said Justice Mabea.

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