Doctors and other health workers were on Friday urged to document how they handle their patients to help in investigating negligence cases. While admitting that there had been a rise in medical negligence cases, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board (KMPDB) said documentation would help to show the role workers played in the treatment process.
“It’s a practice doctors and nurses know they have to follow but (often) they fail to record things on (the) assumption that they are small issues. It is important to document everything done with a patient in as much as the patient-doctor confidentiality is concerned,” KMPDB member Elly Opot said.
According Kenyatta National Hospital Legal Officer Calvin Nyachoti, cases against the hospital alone had risen on a wide range of issues.
But negligence, he pointed out, tops the list over the last few years.
Common cases of wrong diagnosis in adults include cancer, heart attacks, bone fractures, meningitis and appendicitis in children, he said. Health workers, it emerged, have also failed to keep proper records on forensic DNA as well as post-mortem examinations though they are required to produce them in criminal cases. “Experience has taught me it is important to note everything with a patient, it helps a great deal,” Chief Government Pathologist Johansen Oduor said.
COs ON THE SPOT
While calling for responsibility among health professionals, the KMPDB said most complaints from the public were against clinical officers. In 2014, 55 complaints were filed and 10 stemmed from surgeries while 18 were from obstetrics and gynaecology. This year, 32 complaints have been filed to date. The health experts spoke at a meeting on medical legal issues at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi.