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Couple loses medical neglect claim over timing

A couple has lost a medical negligence claim against three doctors since it was filed beyond the three-year deadline.

 Stanley Ombeva and his wife Joyce Mapenzi lodged the civil suit in October 2010 while the alleged negligence took place in February and March, 2005.

Appellate judges William Ouko, Milton Asike-Makhandia and Sankale ole Kantai agreed with the dismissal of the suit by High Court judge Msagha Mbogholi-Msagha on July 22, 2015.

 The couple did not seek extension of time to file the claim and the expiry of the limitation period locked them out of any remedy, the judges said.

They had sued doctors Nathan Murugu, Lucy Muchiri, Bessie Byakika, the Nairobi Hospital, AAR Health Services and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Board.

Murugu had conducted a surgery to remove Mapenzi’s cervix on the belief that she was suffering from invasive cancer. However, the surgeon removed her uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries as a result of misdiagnosis.

The couple had filed a complaint against the doctors and health service providers with the KMPDB, which exonerated them from any blame. Aggrieved by the findings of the board’s inquiry, the couple moved to the High Court.

A notice of preliminary objection was subsequently filed by Muchiri and supported by all the other respondents, the point in contention being that the court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the suit because it had been brought way after the three-year limitation period.

Prof Kiama Wangai, who represented the complainants, had conceded that the negligence claim was outside the statutory period but insisted that there was misrepresentation by the respondents with regard to Mapenzi’s medical condition. He claimed that her consent to undergo the surgery was obtained fraudulently.

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