Ex-nurse claims Pandya hospital has concealed records after misdiagnosis

Friday September 7 2018

A Mombasa court dismissed an application seeking to censure three journalists over a news article alleging that investigators had misplaced vital documents in a case focusing on suspected al-Qaeda mastermind Fazul Abdullah. Photo/FILE

A Mombasa court dismissed an application seeking to censure three journalists over a news article alleging that investigators had misplaced vital documents in a case focusing on suspected al-Qaeda mastermind Fazul Abdullah. Photo/FILE 

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A nurse who was allegedly misdiagnosed at Pandya Memorial Hospital in Mombasa County, more than 18 years ago, has accused it of concealing her medical records.

Ms Caroline Menganga told a court on Friday that the hospital had not responded to her queries.


The woman, who worked as a nurse at the facility in the 1990s, has sued the hospital and Dr Fathiya Abdalla, who diagnosed her, for negligence.

Through her lawyer, Ms Menganga claimed: “There has been conspiracy to hide the records from the plaintiff. All her records have not been provided despite numerous requests, for the purpose of this suit."

She states in her court documents that on or about June 19, 1999, she sought treatment for a fever and coughed-up bloody sputum and was attended to by Dr Abdalla.

She claimed the doctor wrongfully and unprofessionally and/or erroneously diagnosed her as suffering from tuberculosis, put her on medication and injected with streptomycin at a the rate of a gram daily for about four weeks.

“The plaintiff avers that she did not, at any time, suffer from any symptoms of active pulmonary tuberculosis,” the lawyer said.


Ms Menganga said X-ray tests did not reveal any definitive features of active pulmonary tuberculosis and that mantoux tests found no symptoms of the disease.

“As a result of use of the wrong diagnosis, consequent to which the plaintiff was put into uncalled for and unjustified anti-tuberculosis medication, she suffered severe toxicity to the 8th cranial nerve vertigo and has become constantly anaemic, feverish and have my lymph nodes unduly enlarged,” she told Mombasa Senior Principal Magistrate Francis Kyambia.

The woman, who is now about 70 years old, said her conditions arose solely out of "unprofessionalism, negligence and recklessness" by Dr Abdalla and that the hospital is vicariously liable for the injuries, loss and damage she sustained.

She accuses the medic of failing to rightfully diagnose her or to suspect she was not suffering from active tuberculosis, and also failing to carry out skilful investigations which would have unearthed her correct ailments.

The woman said the medic wrongfully and unjustifiably exposed her to extremely damaging x-ray radiation, monitored serious deteriorations of her health and failed to review or revise the diagnosis when her condition did not improve.

“As a result, the plaintiff underwent great bodily pain and suffering, which she would not have otherwise endured. Her said sickness was greatly aggravated and the damages therefore prolonged. She suffered further severe injuries and health deterioration due to uncalled-for use of anti-tuberculosis medication.


In her testimony, Dr Abdalla defended herself saying her intention was to help the complainant and that she did nothing wrong.

“I did not mess her life. I was trying to help her. In addition, I put her on medication after wider consultations with my seniors,” she said

The medic said the woman went to her with the complainant of coughing up blood-stained sputum for long and that she had a positive history of contact with persons with pulmonary tuberculosis.

“I did tests and a chest x-ray. The findings were negative for PTB and the x-ray did not show any signs of any PTB, which was excluded. I started her on other antibacterial medication to clear the pneumonia,” she said

The patient did not get better and upon further tests and consultations, PTB was not ruled out and the woman was referred for bronchoscopy, which she declined, forcing Dr Abdalla to put her on drugs over what she termed "high suspicions" of PTB. 

“I did the best I could to treat her in the circumstances and I believe any doctor of competent skill would have treated her the same way as it was reasonable to suspect PTB, especially due to the persistent coughing with bloody sputum."


Dr Abdalla further said the woman was stopped from taking streptomycin as soon as she reacted to it and that the negative effects subsided.

She added that Ms Menganga's vertigo is not permanent as can either improve or be reversed with time.  

“I cannot be faulted for the dosage I administered on her as it was the standard dosage for adults. It is unfortunate that she reacted to the drug but that was outside my control as people react differently to drugs. I am a very hard working and competent doctor. I never act carelessly,” she said.

The hospital, which is the first defendant in the suit, denied mishandling the nurse.

The case will be heard on October 5.