700 registrars strike at KNH after botched brain surgery

Wednesday March 18 2020

Registrars have boycotted work at the Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi after their colleague was suspended over a botched brain surgery that sparked public outrage.

A registrar is a doctor who is receiving advanced training in a specialist field of medicine to become a consultant.


The 700 medical master’s students on Monday said they would not resume work until the referral hospital resolves systemic issues, which have been partly blamed for the medical mishap.

They alleged unwarranted victimisation of one of their colleagues who was sent home after opening the skull of the wrong patient following a mix-up in identification tags.

The registrars held a meeting with officials of the Kenya Medical Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) in the morning.



The registrars are demanding suspension of the consultant who oversaw the bungled operation.

Other than the consultant neurosurgeon, the other four— the neurosurgeon, the ward nurse, theatre receiving nurse, and the anaesthetist—  were suspended for their alleged role in the surgery.

“The consultant is always on call to address any issues that arise during such surgeries,” explained the source who requested to remain anonymous for fear of victimization.

“He is the person with the maximum responsibility as he oversees everything that happens in the theatre”.

While in training, a registrar works under the supervision of a consultant who is always on call.

As details of what transpired for a wrong patient to end up on the surgeon’s table continue to trickle in, the registrars claim that their colleague, the neurosurgeon fourth year Master’s unfairly victimised and that his suspension be lifted unconditionally as the hospital sorts out its system failures.


They are claiming that by temporarily preventing their colleague from continuing with his duties at the hospital, he was being “unwarrantedly victimised”.

“While our friend may have exhibited some procedural short comings, the surgery was done on the wrong patient mainly because of wrong patient labelling by the ward staff,” reads a note written by the registrars.

But consultants, while defending their colleague also feel that the registrar’s suspension should not have occurred.

“Every hospital world over has medical errors identification and reporting system. From these, protocols are revised, improved and patient safety enhanced. If you punish people for reporting or identifying errors, they will stop reporting them. The eventual sufferer will be the patient,” explained our source.

The hospital's chief executive Lily Koros and her deputy Bernard Githae and the Director of Clinical Services were last week sent on compulsory leave to allow investigations into the incident.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki sent Ms Koros and Mr Githae home following public uproar.