WRONG PRESCRIPTION

Medical negligence biggest contributor to injuries, deaths

Ministry should strengthen laws on establishment of health facilities

In Summary

•Patients seek services hoping to get better, not worse

•Health ministry should ensure facilities have the highest medical standards 

Kenya Bureau of Standards MD Charles Ongwae prepares to throw substandard syringes into fire at EPZ A in Athi River town
LOW MEDICAL STANDARDS: Kenya Bureau of Standards MD Charles Ongwae prepares to throw substandard syringes into fire at EPZ A in Athi River town
Image: JOSEPH NDUNDA

Early this year, the High Court ordered two hospitals in Nairobi to compensate two patients for negligence on brain surgery and a perforated uterus.

Away from Nairobi, 70-year-old Kiguta (not real name) walks into a clinic to have his eyes checked; he is not blind. Two days after administering the prescribed eyes drops, Kiguta can no longer see.

A few miles away in Kabura village, Omollo has his leg amputated after being injected with the wrong drugs meant to reduce pain related to arthritis. Last year, three patients died in Elgeyo Marakwet county due to professional negligence. Walking around the semi-urban areas, you spot a clinic. However, you never get to see the incinerator or at least where the waste surgical materials and products are disposed of.

Children playing around can easily come across the disposed of syringes, not forgetting infection of patients because of unsterilised equipment. There are also fears unlicensed operators may be using the used syringes.

Wrong prescription of drugs, unregistered and unlicensed medical facilities, as well as untrained health workers, are other factors contributing to rising cases of injuries and deaths associated with medical negligence. This contravenes citizens’ right to the highest attainable standards of health as enshrined in article 43(1a) of the Constitution.

There is a need for the Ministry of Health to strengthen laws controlling the establishment of health facilities to ensure they operate within the required standards. Communities must also be educated on their right to better health.

Loss of lives due to medical negligence cannot be justified. These factors will contribute to reduction of injuries besides saving lives. 

Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa, NAYA Kenya