Doctor in Wahome Mutahi's botched surgery in trouble again

A doctor whose licence was recently suspended over a botched dental operation was also involved in the medical procedure that led to the death of Sunday Nation columnist Wahome Mutahi 15 years ago, medical records reveal.

Mr Mutahi, better known as “Whispers” after his long-running humour column, died in 2003 following what was described as a minor operation to remove a swelling in his neck.

Three doctors who were involved in the operation on March 7, 2003 were probed by the Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board and two of them cleared of negligence.

One of them, however, Dr Geoffrey King’anga Muiruri, an anaesthetist, was found guilty and his licence suspended for six months on July 23, 2004.

BRAIN DAMAGE The board found him guilty of misconduct and recommended that he be posted to Kenyatta National Hospital, where he would be supervised after suspension.

Fifteen years later, Dr Muiruri finds himself in a similar situation after a boy, who went to a clinic in Westlands for his front teeth to be realigned, suffered brain damage.

During the procedure, Michael Ochieng’ suffered cardiac arrest leading to what is described as hypoxic brain injury, leaving him in a vegetative state.

Despite questions over his involvement in the two cases, Dr Muiruri, who is also a lecturer at Kenyatta University, told the Sunday Nation that it was sad that the incident happened, but “accidents do occur”.

LIPOMA Speaking on phone, Dr Muiruri said he doesn’t wake up planning to kill or injure anyone.

“There are known complications and side effects to anaesthesia. As a doctor I am taught to minimise or avoid them. But that does not mean that accidents do not occur,” he said, adding that he had been involved in thousands of successful operations.

In the case of Mr Mutahi, the medical board heard that the father of three was in perfect health save for a painless swelling on the base of his neck.

The swelling was described as upper thoracic lipoma by Dr Philip Mulingwa when the columnist first visited the Thika District Hospital on February 23, 2003.

Mr Mutahi got an appointment for March 7, 2003 and was admitted to the hospital for an operation by doctors Ronald Kidiavali Lwegado, Mulingwa and Muiruri.

NEGLIGENCE Mr Mutahi family led by his widow Ricarda Njoki later went to court and accused the doctors of negligence, saying they unprofessionally mishandled the standard procedures in their diagnosis and operation, leading to his death.

She said her husband did not recover from the anaesthesia and died about three months later on July 22, 2003 at KNH.

Dr Muiruri denied that the death was a direct consequence of any unlawful conduct or professional negligence.

Justice Rose Ougo dismissed the matter in April 2015. In the latest case, Mr Michael Isaac Ombuoro said he will pursue the civil matter on his son’s condition, which has been pending before the High Court, now that they have a verdict from the board.

Mr Ombuoro said he took his son, then aged 11 years to Dr Vinayak’s clinic, Smile Africa Dental Clinic, on August 26, 2015 for extraction of some teeth.

The operation, however, went wrong and his son was left in a vegetative state.

FINE

The boy has been undergoing treatment at Kokilaben Ambani hospital in India for neuro-rehabilitation. He was back in Kenya under home care.

On Saturday, Dr Muiruri told the Sunday Nation he will appeal against the decision made on September 13. “When you act out of emotions, you are bound to arrive at such a decision. I believe the court will clear me,” he said.

A committee led by Dr Andrew Wetende fined the two doctors a total of Sh400,000 for professional negligence.

Advocate Cecil Miller, who represented the Ombuoros in the hearing, said it was sad that the life of a young man was reduced to such a state because of negligence. “I know the boy very well and he was such a vibrant young man,” he said.

The board also directed the two medics to start negotiations with Mr Ombuoro with a view to compensating the family for the suffering.

This story was originally published on the DAILY NATION.