An epic court battle is shaping up between a city hospital and a woman who claims a rushed, botched surgery at the facility forced her to undertake a reconstructive surgery at a different hospital for a tidy sum.
Ms Hannah Maria Malla, 37, has sued Meridian Equator Hospital and the doctor who conducted a gall bladder stones removal operation on her on May 9, last year.
She is suing them for negligence alleging poor surgical expertise, emotional, psychological and financial distress.
According to Ms Malla, she was suffering abdominal pain when she visited the facility, and was admitted. The doctor who examined her established the presence of gall bladder stones and recommended an operation to remove them.
Two days later, the doctor conducted a laparoscopic cholecystectomy procedure to remove them and discharged Ms Malla seven days later. At home, however, there was no respite for the woman as her health deteriorated, forcing her to head back to the hospital.
With her eyes yellowing, the hospital recommended further tests at German Medical Centre which established a bile leak. She was referred to Reliance Hospital in South C where another operation to repair her situation was conducted.
“Due to poor surgical expertise by the doctor, I was forced to seek medical attention from a different hospital in order to receive the proper care and skill that is required for any patient who goes to hospital for treatment,” her affidavit reads.
For the initial bill, Ms Malla paid Sh784,081 out of which her limited inpatient insurance cover paid Sh500,000. She paid the remaining Sh284,081 off her pocket. In the second reconstructive surgery, Ms Malla claims she parted with Sh957,357.
The hospital, through Prof Musili Wambua & Company Advocates, has denied most of the claims, insisting that the surgery was professionally and skillfully executed, but also distancing itself from the actual operation as a matter between the surgeon and the patient.
The hospital says it only had a contract for service with the surgeon doctor and it cannot therefore be held legally responsible for his acts or omission. It claimed that it remained a stranger to many of the claims in Ms Malla’s pleadings on account of this separation of roles.
“The alleged botched procedure undertaken was in fact and indeed professionally executed and above board,” says the hospital.
The medical scans conducted on Ms Malla showed that the clips were in place, that the external surgeon confirmed the clips were correctly placed, and that further tests affirmed that the correct surgery had been performed, says the hospital.
The medical facility described the doctor who conducted the original surgery as “visiting specialised surgeon, acting in his own professional capacity as a duly independent general surgeon.”
The hospital is relying on various medical reports conducted on Ms Malla at the time.
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According to WhatsApp communication attached to the proceedings, Ms Malla had accused the surgeon doctor who first operated on her of messing her up, wondering whether it was all for money or an attempt to kill her.
But the doctor claimed that it was a stricture which released the surgery clips due to pressure build up, releasing bile in the abdomen. Ms Malla said the second surgeon told her she should not have been rushed into operation since she had an inflammation.
But the original surgeon told her that the surgery could not have waited because of the pain she was in when she visited the hospital. The doctor also told her that surgery complications do arise, even with the most senior surgeons.
From the WhatsApp evidence, the surgeon apologised to Ms Malla over how she felt about the whole thing. He took an extra step of refunding the full amount he had been paid for the surgery, and hoped the post-recovery scans would bail him out.
He wished her well, and offered to pay for her post-surgery imaging. Ms Malla is seeking special damages amounting to Sh859,416, general damages, cost of the suit and interest. She is represented in the suit by the law firm of Muhatia Pala & Associates Advocates.