Shalom Hospital accused of negligence in baby Ethan's death

Pharmacists say precautionary measures could have saved baby's life

In Summary

•It was possible to save baby Ethan’s life if he were not discharged immediately after

•Pharmacist says a patient should be closely monitored after a morphine dose 

Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua on Monday, May 6, 2019
Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua on Monday, May 6, 2019

The Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya has faulted Shalom Community Hospital for negligence following the death of baby Ethan.

"Shalom Hospital needs to follow the norms and standards that the Ministry of Health has prescribed for staffing requirements. They should have had a pharmacist," PSK chief executive Daniella Munene said on Tuesday at a press briefing in Nairobi.

According to PSK, medical errors occur and hospitals should have a system in place to alleviate them.

Seven-month-old Ethan was rushed to Shalom Community Hospital on Sunday after his left hand was scalded by hot water from a dispenser the previous night.

An attendant alleged to be a quack administered a morphine injection to the ailing baby. Under the care of his mother Juliana Mutheu, baby Ethan was discharged almost immediately.

On arriving home, the seven-month-old was already weak with breathing problems and he refused to breastfeed, attracting the mother's attention.

She contacted a nurse in the hospital who informed her that weakness was a side effect of the drug.

Juliana later took her son to the hospital where he succumbed at the Emergency Unit.

“The medicine that caused the fatal incident was morphine, a drug classified as a control product that should be handled only by a qualified pharmacist,” Munene said.

According to PSK, it was possible to save baby Ethan’s life if precautionary measures were taken.  


“After administration of the pain reliever, a patient should be closely monitored. Respiratory depression and central nervous system depression displayed by drowsiness are expected,” pharmacist Sylvia Opanga said.

The clinical pharmacist added that morphine is used to relieve severe pain and not mild or medium pain, indicating that it was too strong for the small boy.

PSK insisted that before administering morphine, oxygen should be available in the hospital in addition to an antidote in case of anything. The more reason the baby should have been be monitored keenly.

All these were not adhered to, questioning the qualification of baby Ethan’s attendant at the hospital in Machakos county.

“Medicines are poisons when in the wrong hands. If a hospital lacks a qualified pharmacist, it should not be allowed to serve the public” PSK president Louis Machogu said.

Weeks ago, Shalom Hospital made headlines after a video went viral of a woman delivering on the floor while the attending nurses drank tea. 

Investigations by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board revealed that the nurse was not qualified to practice. Further investigations on the matter are under way.

In line with the occurrences, PSK has asked health regulators in the country to partner with professional bodies and give them the mandate of self-regulation.

Shalom is currently closed after an order by Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua. 

(Edited by R.Wamochie)