Hospital ordered to pay Sh23m for birth mishap

Court says Aga Khan University Hospital to blame for damage to baby’s hand nerves. [iStockphoto]

A city hospital has been ordered to pay a minor more than Sh23 million after a botched delivery.

Court of Appeal judges Daniel Musinga, Hellen Omondi and Dr Imaana Laibuta ordered the Aga Khan University Hospital to pay Paul Semenye and Jane Wanjiru after their son’s right-hand nerves were damaged during birth.

“There is no doubt in our minds that the injuries sustained by the appellant herein were grave. The birth of a child is, on most occasions, a joyous event for the parents of the child. We cannot describe the pain the appellant underwent during birth and in the course of his various surgeries, both as an infant and a toddler,” Justice Musinga said.

According to court records, blunders by the medics led to the minor getting Erb’s palsy.  His hand, the court heard, does not move.

Semenye argued that the medics induced his wife to facilitate a natural birth, but the weight of the minor required that he be delivered through a cesarean section. Judges heard that medics forcefully pulled out the minor using their hands.

The man sought to have the hospital pay for his son’s prolonged pain and suffering alongside damages for his medical expenses and correctional surgery.

The hospital, in its reply denied, the claims. It argued that both the minor and his mother were skillfully and properly handled, and delivery was managed in the best possible manner.

According to Aga Khan, any issue that may have happened was out of unavoidable circumstances.

The hospital shifted the blame to the mother, arguing that she failed to disclose her medical history.

Wanjiru argued that the hospital had a history of her pregnancy prior to the visit on March 12, 2003.

The court awarded Sh15 million for general damages, among other settlements.

A medical report presented to the court indicated that the minor required Sh3,000 per week for physiotherapy. In total, the court heard that with a life expectancy of 63 years, he needed Sh7.8 million.

Another medical report from the Kijabe Hospital indicated that the minor would never be able to use his arm. However, there was some hope as the minor was able to lift the arm to a 160-degree range.

There is a possibility to regain some usage of the arm after several operations in India.

The court heard that the boy requires Sh3 million for corrective surgery and had already incurred 550,350.67 Indian Rupees.

The battle started at the High Court, where Justice Mary Ang’awa in 2006 awarded the parent Sh800,000 as damages, 115,823 Indian Rupees and Sh70,000 as hospital expenses, and Sh50,000 as an award for winning the case.

However, Semenye appealed the decision, arguing that the judge failed to consider the gravity of the damage. He demanded Sh20 million.