MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE

Kericho hospital to pay for patient taken to morgue alive

Kigen was transferred to Kapkatet mortuary for preservation only for him to be found still alive.

In Summary

•The patient was taken to Kapkatet subcounty hospital on November 24, 2020 at around 7.30am.

•The Kericho county government had stated that the family of the man, now deceased, had come to the facility to seek mortuary services.

Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony
Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony
Image: SONU TANU

The Kericho county government and the management of Kapkatet Subcounty Hospital will have to compensate the family of a man who was assumed dead and taken to the morgue alive.

The man later died at a different hospital.

Peter Kigen, 37, a resident of Bureti constituency, was declared dead and his body transferred to the Kapkatet hospital mortuary for preservation only for the patient to be found still alive during embalming.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council said the hospital should apologise to the family and make amends for wrongdoing over how Kigen was handled.

The council has further directed Kapkatet hospital to establish and implement Standard Operating Procedures for receipt, confirmation and preservation of persons claimed to have died outside a hospital and submit a copy to the chair of the council within 30 days.

“Kapkatet hospital be and is hereby admonished for failing to institute and implement Standard Operating Procedures to ensure that people who pass on outside the hospital are certified dead before being taken to the mortuary,” KMPDC chief executive Daniel Yumbya said in a submission to the Senate Health Committee on Tuesday.

The Kericho county government had stated that the family of the man had come to the facility to seek mortuary services after they had diagnosed their relative as dead.

According to a submission by Governor Paul Chepkwony, the patient was taken to Kapkatet subcounty hospital on November 24, 2020 at around 7.30am using vehicle registration number KCJ 077M.

The county said the wife at around 4am realised that Kigen had lost consciousness and she screamed thereby waking up relatives who came and declared him dead. They decided to wait till morning to seek the services of the mortuary.

“The persons in the vehicle claimed that they were bringing in a dead relative from home and were seeking mortuary services. The security officer on duty directed them to the hospital casualty for confirmation of the death,” Chepkwony said.

“As a normal procedure in the hospital, the relatives are to obtain a registration receipt then proceed for the service they require. For this particular case, the relatives proceeded to casualty,” he added.

However, the relatives became impatient after they were told to wait for the clinician who was resuscitating another patient before certifying whether indeed Kigen was dead.

“After the procedure, the nurse went to look for the relatives outside the parking lot but surprisingly they were nowhere to be seen. It later emerged that the relatives had proceeded to the mortuary without any clinician confirming the alleged death,” he added.

The mortician received the “body” still wrapped in a blanket. While unwrapping, she noticed signs of life and immediately called the clinician for further assessment.

On assessment, the clinician confirmed that the alleged body had a weak pulse, diminished respiratory action, absent extraocular movements and absent reflexes.

Resuscitation was commenced as the patient was transferred to the casualty unit for stabilisation. After stabilisation, he was admitted to the male ward, where he was managed.

The senators poked holes into the manner in which the matter was handled, and demanded that further investigations be conducted to ensure those found culpable are brought to book.

They questioned how the “body” was moved before proper examination, who might have directed the relatives to the mortuary and how Kigen was admitted to the morgue without certification from the clinician yet there exists a memo that advises that nobody should be moved to the morgue for preservation without being duly certified.

“This also applies to bodies brought in by the police following road traffic accidents as well as community deaths brought in by relatives,” a notice tabled before the Senate committee reads.

The senators also questioned why the hospital decided to stay with the patient for almost six days, only to decide to transfer him to Kericho county hospital on December 3 when he was in critical condition, where he was pronounced dead on arrival at around 2pm.

“It is strange that an emergency like that could be left like that. It seems like that is what happens at the hospital, no wonder the family became impatient and left,” Senator Beth Mugo said.

The pathologist found himself in the crossfire after he was accused of issuing contradicting statements.

Titus Ngulungu performed the postmortem on the body of Kigen on December 8, 2020 to ascertain the cause of his death.

In his submission, the pathologist noted that the incision wound measuring 60mm found on the right femoral area was vertical oriented and professionally stitched, what Yumbya says gives credence to the allegation by the relatives that the patient woke up after an incision was made on his right leg by the mortician.

The pathologist report further noted that the body was wasted and severely dehydrated and the stomach also distended. He concluded the death was due to metastatic carcinoma most likely signet ring adenocarcinoma.

The Senate asked the county government to do further investigations and reappear on a date to be communicated. 

 

Edited by Henry Makori