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February 18, 2019

Summit should address rogue doctors

The next State House summit will be on health. This week focused on tourism and the previous summit was on transport and infrastructure.

Like in all the previous summits, it will be expected that who's who in  health matters will be in attendance to shed light on what is happening in the sector.

Government, no doubt, will be keen to showcase positive strides it has made in this sector and indeed it has.

Maternal health care is an area for example where people are praising the government. Even Caesarean sections are being done at government hospitals for free.

Indeed, many a husband out in the country, is constantly getting surprised after sweating waiting for the bill for his wife’s delivery only to be told there are no charges. No word on whether this has led to more conceptions.

The managed health services project in the counties by some accounts, are doing quite well where they have been implemented.

In fact, Kiambu governor William Kabogo, is on record asking governor Evans Kidero of Nairobi, to fix his hospitals because city residents are flocking to Kiambu hospitals.

Yet, some of the age old problems persist with this sector.

The pharmaceutical drugs cartels seem to still hold sway as cases of hospitals and dispensaries running out of medicine are all too common.

Mismanagement and corruption at some of our hospitals is also a big problem.

But the biggest problem and one that government must address once and for all, is medical malpractice and medical industry cartels in the private sector.

Former President Mwai Kibaki was recently checked out of hospital here by his family and flown to South Africa for treatment.

Reports indicate he is recovering well.

A friend recently had to fly to India for specialised treatment and even carried a family member with her.

One reason is that even including travel and accommodation expenses, the medical expenses are cheaper and more reliable than ours locally.

But a more crucial reason for this, is that there is a lot of medical malpractice going on in Kenya that goes unpunished.

And the reason for this is that, even where clear negligence and culpability can be shown, somehow those responsible always get away with it.

This is attributed to the board of these medical practitioners which is said to always side with the culprits.

At no time have we heard of a high profile case of deregistration and prosecution of a doctor for medical malpractice.

A friend is fund raising after a lady relative, only 65, died at one of the top private hospitals after what was supposed to be a very simple procedure.

The hospital is demanding Sh6.5m even after failing to deliver a positive result.

One doctor who visited the patient for less than an hour, billed Sh214,000 and absolutely refused to negotiate with the family to reduce the figure.

After all this, they have to pay the money before the body can be released.

It is time government established an independent oversight body for this cartel that does not feature even one doctor, to entertain complaints of medical malpractice and discharge justice accordingly.

Hospitals that deliver death for mishandling a procedure, should not demand full amount but must discount accordingly given their failure. Else, they should decline patients they feel nothing more can be done for them.

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