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Woman detained by city hospital over Sh600K medical bill now seeks compensation

A woman who delivered at Nairobi West Hospital but lost her baby in an unclear circumstance has sued it for unlawfully detaining her for almost two months after she failed to raise the over Sh600,000 medical bill.

In a suit filed at the High Court, Ms Veronicah Nyangai sued the Nairobi West Hospital for unlawful detention and violation of her rights.

“I was forced to move from the maternity section barely a week after the surgery (by two police officers bearing AK-47 rifles) and taken to a room that was not a ward where I stayed for nearly two weeks. It was not habitable and I developed complications,” Ms Nyangai said in court papers.

The 24 year-old woman was initially admitted to Mary Immaculate Hospital where developed complications but was not attended to due to the doctors’ strike. She opted to go to Nairobi West Hospital on December 17, 2016.

Her condition worsened and had to deliver her baby girl through caesarean section on December 19, 2016. Her medical bill was to be partly paid by her National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) cover.

The next day, doctors informed her that she had lost her baby.

BABY IN INCUBATOR

Shockingly though, thirty minutes later, when she went to the newborn and infant critical care unit, she was shocked to find the baby in the incubator.

The hospital explained that it was a case of mistaken identity and she even started nursing her baby.

A few hours later, she was informed that the baby had died and the body transferred to the morgue.

She claimed that her inquiries on the cause of death bore no fruits and that she could not even access the hospital’s file. To add salt to injury, together with her husband, they were denied the chance to have the body for burial despite promising to clear the bill which stood at Sh410,323.

She was discharged on December 23, 2016 orally but was held in custody in a room within the premise pending settlement of the outstanding medical bill.

On January 12, 2017 she claims she was readmitted at the hospital for over a month till February 15 at the General Care Unit, but billed as through she were under maternity care services.

In an attempt to reach an agreement with the hospital, her husband pledged on January 16 to pay a monthly payment of Sh 50,000 as from next month.

Their lawyer advised them to pledge clearing the outstanding monies using their NHIF cover which would have catered for Sh 150,000 as surety.

INSISTED ON CASH

But the hospital insisted on cash payment of Sh650,000 and the remaining Sh200,000 to be cleared with security or have their lawyer settle the bill.

They were given their baby’s corpse on February 22 and were billed for the same.

Records at the hospital indicate she was to be discharged on February 15 after the re-admission. Her bill dated February 24 shows that her NHIF could cover Sh162,000 yet the hospital had previously declined to accept it.

As a result of the detention, she claims she could not attend well to their six year-old son who is now living with his grandmother and could not get any income.

She wants the hospital ordered to release her from unlawful detention, declare it unconstitutional and have her compensated.