THE High court has ordered The Nairobi Hospital to release the body of a woman who died while under its care. According to court documents, the hospital unlawfully detained Elizabeth Waithaka despite her discharge on February 25 until she passed away. Waithaka, who suffered from a brain disease, was never discharged due to a Sh4 million medical bill she owed the hospital.
Giving the ruling yesterday, Justice David Majanja said: ''The death of a loved one is always a sensitive matter.’' He said he had to balance the rights of Waithaka's son, Issac Ngugi, to have his mother accorded a dignified burial within a reasonable time and the right of the hospital to expect payment of hospital bills, which the son had undertaken to settle.
“It is not in dispute that the deceased was ailing, prior to her death and had been hospitalised for some time. It is also not in dispute that the hospital bill had accumulated to a sum of at least Sh6.7 million as at 21 June 2012,” said the judge. He ordered that LR No. 330/354 be placed as security for the bill ''and any dealings of the suit property will be subject to the orders of the court''.
Justice Majanja ordered Waithaka's family to pay the hospital Sh2 million within the next four days for it to release the body. ''The parties shall then agree on the final sum due to the hospital within the next 21 days,'' he said. In the application that was brought under a certificate of urgency, Ngugi claimed the hospital unlawfully and illegally detained his mother despite her discharge for home nursing care.
He then received information on 18 August that his mother had died. He said there was no legal justification for the hospital to detain his mother, adding that doing so violated and infringed on her rights. The case will be mentioned on October 26 for further directions.