Medical negligence: A cause of needless pain and deaths in Ghana

Source The Ghana Report

Issues of medical negligence are very common in Ghana, especially in public health facilities. However, only a few people are often able to take legal action against these health facilities.

Over the years, Ghanaians have had to deal with the bizarre loss of their loved ones at the hands of our medical practitioners at various healthcare facilities across the country.

Many people have died due to the challenges in the country’s health system. Some of these unfortunate deaths were caused by negligence on the part of the medical practitioners, such as; doctors, nurses, midwives, laboratory officers, etc.

Some deaths have also been caused by the failures in the country’s health system. They include; the lack of proper and requisite equipment for treatment, the lack of infrastructure, and practitioners failing to give the basic standard care a patient will require at a particular time, amongst others.

The Ghana Report has put together the number of times lives have been lost as a result of alleged medical negligence.

Baby Faraj Mohammed dies at KNUST hospital

A 10-day-old baby died at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Hospital in Kumasi in a suspected case of medical negligence during his circumcision.

Faraj Mohammed was sent to the facility for a male circumcision procedure, but reports indicate that he suffered cardiac arrest during the procedure and died a few minutes later while under the care of the medical team.

Information gathered suggests that on April 3, 2023, Mohammed Jamal, 36, a private security officer and Halimatu Adams, 27, a fashion designer took their son to the KNUST Hospital for a male circumcision procedure.

Faraj Mohammed was received by a nurse who took him to the theatre for the procedure.

The wild cry of the baby was heard for the last time by the parents, who were seated in the waiting area of the theatre.

Then some senior nurses and doctors were seen rushing into the theatre, a development which made the parents distraught.

The baby’s mother knew something bad had happened but had to endure a long wait to hear news about her son.

The inconsistencies in communicating the situation to the parents fuelled speculations about the baby’s condition.

Whilst the couple was asked to get a hospital attendance card to prepare for admission of the baby, an ambulance was brought in a few minutes later to transport him to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital for further treatment.

Then came the time to break the news of the baby’s death to the parents.

  • Linda Adua’s death

39-year-old Linda Adua died on April 11, 2023, after nurses of Central Aflao Hospital in the Volta Region allegedly refused to treat her unless she deposited a cash amount of GH¢400.

According to the deceased’s family, despite her and her 19-year-old son’s pleas, the nurses refused to accept mobile money payment for her treatment, leaving the patient unattended until she died.

An elder sister of the deceased, Abigail Adua narrated that on April 11, Linda asked her son to accompany her to the hospital because she was not feeling too well.

On reaching the hospital around 4:05 a.m., two nurses on duty requested that they made a deposit of GH¢400 before she would be attended to.

She said her sister offered to pay the amount through a mobile money transaction as it was too early to find a vendor to make a cash withdrawal.

The nurses reportedly said electronic transfers were against the hospital’s policy, insisting that her son should go out of the hospital to look for a mobile money vendor.

She added that Linda was left seated in a wheelchair at the hospital’s outpatient department (OPD) complaining of difficulty in breathing while her son travelled about two kilometres in an attempt to withdraw the money.

The son found no vendor to facilitate the cash withdrawal.

Abigail Adua said that when Linda appeared to be dead, the hospital directed her son to take her to the Ketu South Municipal Hospital without a referral note or an accompanying officer, where she was pronounced dead on arrival.

  • Augustina Awotwe’s death

In July 2022, Augustina Awotwe, a 31-year-old mother allegedly died in an ambulance while being transported to Korle-Bu from the Western Region.

Augustina had been referred to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital after she developed complications from a cesarean section. She was referred by doctors at Holy Child Catholic Hospital in Fijai.

However, officials of the Ambulance Service demanded GHC600 from her husband to fuel the ambulance.

The husband’s failure to raise the amount on time led to the delay that eventually caused her death.

  • Akua Nyarko Osei-Bonsu’s death

On June 15, 2020, one Mustapha Mohammed, popularly known as Vandal Malopia on social media sued the Greater Accra Regional Hospital for gross negligence leading to the death of his wife, Akua Nyarko Osei-Bonsu and his baby boy during delivery.

Mr Mohammed alleged that the medical officers and team at the Greater Ridge Hospital were so negligent that they failed to appropriately treat and manage his wife’s condition during and after a Caesarean Section (CS) at the hospital.

According to him, during the deceased’s routine antenatal care, the medical officers requested a Doppler Scan. After the scan, the deceased was diagnosed with severe Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR) with an Abnormal Umbilical Artery Doppler, a condition which pointed to placental insufficiency.

Based on the diagnosis, the deceased was scheduled for an emergency (CS) in order to save her life and the baby. Notwithstanding the CS which was conducted on December 16, 2019, the baby did not survive and in less than 24 hours, Mrs Osei-Bonsu developed a condition called thromboembolism which eventually led to her death.

  • Kafui Kuto dies at Ridge Hospital

In June 2020, Emmanuel Kuto, the Director of the Ghana Institute of Languages, described some staff of the Ridge Hospital as callous after the death of his wife, Kafui under their care.

Mr Kuto’s wife, aged 48 years old, had been diagnosed with a hernia and was receiving treatment at the hospital. She checked in to the facility on June 21, 2020.

But she died on the evening of June 25, 2020, at the Ridge Hospital after some complications. According to the husband of the deceased, his wife was fine until doctors gave her the wrong medication, which eventually led to her death.

Mr Kuto revealed how he overheard a doctor reprimanding his colleague over a phone call for prescribing the wrong medications for his wife.

This was after the doctor asked the nurses what drugs the patient was given and denied giving those prescriptions for her condition.

Following this occurrence, he was directed to buy a couple more prescriptions which he did without hesitation.

However, these were not enough to save her as she died three hours later. This was unknown to him until the next morning when he rushed to the hospital following a call from his sister-in-law.

  • Solomon Asare-Kumah’s death at 37 Military Hospital

The family of a 48-year-old man,  Solomon Asare-Kumah, who died after being admitted at the 37 Military Hospital sued the management of the facility over alleged medical negligence.

In a writ of summons filed by the lawyer for the family, they listed the wrongful insertion of an oxygen tube and malfunctioning of a drill meant for surgery, among other things, as the cause of Solomon Asare-Kumah’s death.

Solomon Asare Kumah came to Ghana from the UK in 2019 to visit his sick father but took ill himself.

After some examination, doctors said he had a non-cancerous brain tumour that needed to be removed urgently.

He was referred from a hospital in Sakumono to the 37 Military Hospital.

According to the family, a neurosurgeon at the 37 Military Hospital whose name was only given as Colonel Appiah, told them the surgery was necessary at the time.

The family said the supposed emergency surgery of the deceased was postponed several times with different excuses including one time when the neurosurgeon said he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t perform the surgery.

According to Emmanuel, brother of the deceased,  Solomon was later transferred to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital for an Inferior Vena Cava filter procedure which involves a mesh being placed in a lower limb to prevent the blood clot from travelling to the heart or lungs after which he was sent back to the 37 Military Hospital.

He said after the surgery was performed he went to visit his brother who had swollen up like “a balloon.”

After 24 hours, he said he returned and was informed about the brother’s death.

  • Angela Afriyie Agyemang’s death at Suntreso Government Hospital

In July 2018, a 30-year-old pregnant woman Angela Afriyie Agyemang died with her unborn baby at the Suntreso Government Hospital in Kumasi.

Her death comes after the health post refused her entry into the labour ward because her husband could not immediately pay a GHc500 ‘Doctor Motivation Fee’.

Angela later died at the theatre just as her husband had made available the GHc500 fee for which she had been denied medical attention.

Pastor Solomon Lamo Latiff, husband to the deceased, said he had taken his wife to the hospital the previous day when she started experiencing labour pangs after her due date exceeded by a week.

He says that one Dr Sarpong then informed him that a Caesarean Section (CS) was to be done but not until he had paid the GHc500 ‘Doctor Motivation Fee’.

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