Medical procedures are expected to be flawless and to be very precise. In a bizarre incident in Kenya, four medics cut open the skull of the wrong patient at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.
The brain surgery was scheduled to be performed on a patient who had a blood clot on the brain. The other patient only needed non-invasive treatment for swelling. Two men had been wheeled into KNH unconscious last Sunday. In what has been described as "horrific" a mix-up on identification tags saw the wrong person being the recipient of a brain surgery.
It is reported that when the doctors had spent some hours performing the surgery, they realized that there was no blood clot and that they were performing the surgery on the wrong person. Four medics have been suspended so far because of the glaring medical malpractice. The suspended include the neurosurgeon, the ward nurse, theatre receiving nurse, and the anaesthetist.
An investigation has been launched, and it has been reported by the hospital that the patient was "in recovery and progressing well". Both patients are recuperating well, in what has been described as a "miracle of some sort". It has emerged that the one who was supposed to receive the brain surgery because of a blood clot may not even need surgery at all, as the condition has been improving significantly.
The mix-up is a first in the country, according to the board regulating medical practice in Kenya. The board has since demanded a hearing into the matter. It comes only six weeks after the health minister ordered an investigation into claims new mothers were sexually assaulted at the same hospital. People have now been inquisitive about the commitment of the medical staff at the hospital and about pre-surgery procedures in Kenyan hospitals, especially on how to ensure the right patient is operated on the right place.
The doctors colleagues have however protested the suspensions, saying that the person who put on the identification tags is the one who is responsible for such a horror. The doctors' union defended staff, saying the hospital was "overwhelmed" by staff shortages and inadequate operating theatre space.
"You find one doctor could be doing 10 to 19 operations [in a day]," Ouma Oluga, chief executive officer of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union, told Reuters news agency.
Kenyatta National Hospital, the country's largest referral hospital, is facing a dilapidation of services and infrastructure. It has been plagued with reports of broken equipment, overcrowding, and long waiting times for treatment. Some have demanded the resignation of the entire hospital board of management in the wake of the controversies that have tarnished the hospital.