Kenyan doctor performs brain surgery on wrong patient

NAIROBI • A Kenyan neurosurgeon and his medical team opened a patient's skull last month to remove a blood clot in the brain and made a startling discovery: There was no clot.

Kenya's Daily Nation reported that staff at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi had mixed up two patients' identification tags before the surgery.

One patient required brain surgery to remove a clot, and the other needed treatment for brain swelling. The staff had been operating for hours before they realised the mistake.

The sobering mix-up ignited widespread concern, with some on social media calling for the hospital's board members to resign.

Kenyatta National's CEO Lily Koros Tare said in a statement on Thursday that four medical professionals had been suspended after "apparently operating on the wrong patient". The four include the neurosurgeon, ward nurse, theatre receiving nurse and anaesthetist, she said.

On Friday, Kenyan Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki placed the CEO and the director of clinical services on compulsory leave pending an investigation, according to the Daily Nation.

The newspaper explained that patients are prepared for surgery and taken into the operating room with name tags on their gowns to identify them.

A source told the newspaper that the surgeon does not have any communication with the patient before the operation and simply goes on the information in the patient's chart.

Fellow doctors at the hospital said in a statement to the Star that the nurses who prepared the patient for surgery are the ones to blame for apparently mixing up the identification tags.

The Daily Nation reported that "in a miracle of some sort", the mistreated patient is in good condition, and the one who actually had the blood clot may not have surgery now "because he had improved significantly".

Hospital officials said in Thursday's statement that the medical centre "deeply regrets this event and has done all it can to ensure the safety and well being of the patient in question".


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 04, 2018, with the headline Kenyan doctor performs brain surgery on wrong patient. Subscribe