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Parents of baby who lost an arm to sue Gov’t

By Moses Walubiri

Added 1st December 2019 10:22 AM

On 10th November, Mathias Ngobi, an intern doctor who was not being supervised by senior medics pulled off an arm of a baby during an operation.

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On 10th November, Mathias Ngobi, an intern doctor who was not being supervised by senior medics pulled off an arm of a baby during an operation.

HEALTH   

JINJA - Parents of a newly born baby who lost an arm at the hands of an intern doctor at Jinja Hospital during a bungled C-section operation early this month have served the Attorney General with a notice of intention to sue.

A notice of intention to sue in civil matters is a document that informs the other party that the aggrieved party is ready to institute proceedings in court unless the matter in contention is settled amicably. 

For suits against Government, local government and other scheduled corporations, the law requires a litigant to serve a statutory notice of intention to sue and wait for 45 days before instituting a suit.

On 10th November, Mathias Ngobi, an intern doctor who was not being supervised by senior medics pulled off an arm of a baby during an operation.

The baby’s mother, Betty Birabwa, had the previous day been discharged from the same facility after being admitted over pregnancy-related complications.

The baby’s parents, David Muwereza and  Birabwa are being represented by city human rights lawyer, Ladislaus Rwakafuzi’s law firm.

“We hereby notify you that we intend to institute proceedings against the government through you, for the actions of the said Hospital and its employers in professional negligence unless your good office approaches us with a view of settling the matter,” the notice dated 27th September, reads in part.

The medical superintendent of Jinja Hospital has been made a party and equally served.

To prove professional negligence, the lawyers cite the long hours Birabwa was left unattended to while in excruciating pain, letting an intern conduct an operation without supervision and leaving the premature baby unattended to in the theatre.

In adjudicating the matter of professional negligence among doctors, courts in common law jurisdictions like Uganda rely on the Bolam test.

The Bolam test is a test that can be carried out to ascertain whether a doctor or other medical professional has breached their duty of care to a patient.

All medical professionals have a duty of care towards patients in so much as they must do what they can to keep them safe from harm.

If a doctor, nurse, dentist, radiographer or any other medical professional fails in their duty to provide a reasonable standard of care towards a patient, then it can lead to a medical negligence compensation claim.

The Bolam test was introduced following the landmark clinical negligence claim in Bolam v Friern Hospital Management Committee.

In order to satisfy the Bolam test, a medical professional must be able to demonstrate that they acted in a manner in which a responsible body of medical professionals who work in the same field would deem to be acceptable.

In the wake of the botched C-section, Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has blamed the government for the accident.

According to UMA president, Dr. Richard Idro, several interns deployed in public health facilities across the country are not supervised thus compromising the lives of patients.

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