A road accident victim has sued the Kenyatta National Hospital for refusing to discharge him over a Sh1.2 million hospital bill.
Mr Nathan Muhangani Shimwenyi claims that the hospital is holding him illegally and subjecting him to an inhumane and degrading treatment since the doctors have refused to attend to him until he clears the bill.
Through lawyer Carol Kinya of Kituo Cha Sheria, Mr Shimwenyi is seeking orders directing the hospital to immediately release him to seek emergency treatment in an alternative hospital and for the hospital to avail all his medical records.
He also wants orders directing the minister of Medical Services to take action against doctors who have refused to attend to him for failing to pay his bills.
Ms Kinya told the court that it was unconstitutional for the hospital to continue detaining the patient yet they are not providing any medical care.
“He has been at KNH without treatment, care or attention since April 20 despite his health condition to a point where he is now partially disabled and is likely to be permanently disabled without urgent medication,” said Ms Kinya.
She added that the patient needs urgent operation to save his right leg whose nerves were damaged during the accident, and that he is at danger of getting more permanent disabilities if not discharged to seek treatment elsewhere.
She accused the hospital of refusing to perform the required operation on the leg, or offering him any medical care and physiotherapy.
“The patient is only being given pain killers despite having severe fractures. They have not provided any wheel chair or crutches for him to move around and denied him access to a private doctor who recommended that he be discharged for emergency treatment in another hospital,” said Ms Kinya.
She submitted that the hospital’s action is in violation of the patient’s right to freedom and liberty, and that the right to receive payment is contractual and should not supersede the right of a person to be free.
However, the hospital denied claims that they were holding Mr Shimwenyi illegally due to none payment of bills since he was the one who chose to be admitted at the private wing and signed an agreement to pay the bills.
“We are detaining him for medical treatment and not for none payment, even though the hospital has a right to receive payments and has an outline of how to recover bills. The patient has not made any request to be discharged,” said the hospital.
They also denied allegations that they have neglected the patient, submitting that he is actually on physiotherapy and provided with a wheel chair for his rehabilitation.
The hospital denied claims that they refused to avail the medical records of Mr Shimwenyi to a private doctor who went to examine him since the notice would have been indicated by the clinical officer.
Lady Justice Mumbi Ngugi will make a ruling on Friday.
Mr Shimweyi, a driver of an American Embassy official, was involved in an accident on the Nairobi-Naivasha road and after receiving emergency treatment at the Naivasha Hospital, was transferred to KNH on April 13.