In a rare case of inpatient suicide in hospital attributed to weak internal hospital systems, a 17 years old girl hanged herself at Nairobi Women’s Hospital and her lifeless body was discovered almost five hours later dangling on a drainage pipe inside the female lavatories.
The duration within which the girl was discovered to have been missing exposes the existing systemic flaws right from the wards, corridors and other essential areas within the hospital to keep real-time trail of admitted patients.
The Ministry of Health is yet to release compliance and licensing requirements on serious injury or death to patients inside health facilities.
Investigations by The Informer and records at the Nairobi Women’s Hospital, Hurlingham branch show the underage girl was admitted at the facility on February 22, 2019. The following day, the hospital undertook ultrasound on her where she was discovered to be nine weeks and four days pregnant.
According to the hospital records, the deceased was complaining to be “suffering from dehydration resulting to diarrhoea and vomiting.”
The medical reports show. On February 23, 2019, at mid-morning hours when the duty doctor in charge went to check on her progress, she was missing only to be found late afternoon having committed suicide in the lavatories.
The matter was reported at Kilimani Police Station before her body was moved to hospital’s subsidiary Adams Arcade morgue awaiting postmortem analysis.
“She was found at the wards toilet hanging dead on a drainage pipe,” the hospital explained at Kilimani Police Station Directorate of Criminal Investigations offices. Focus has now been shifted to hospital Chief Executive Officer Sam Thenya over safety measures the hospital has instituted in mitigating risks associated with hanging, and additional suicide prevention efforts within the facility.
“The national government must come up with regulatory measures to mitigate inpatient risks especially those who are regarded as suicidal high risks. Hospitals just like police cells should provide non-ligature fixtures to suicide cases inside there,” a senior official at the MoH said.
The Ministry of Health has no analytical data of case-by-case incidents of serious injury or deaths inside hospitals self-inflicted by high-risk patients. The Ministry of Health is duty bound to audit if Nairobi Women’s Hospital adheres top policy guidelines instituted to address the emerging trend.
In 2017, a patient at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) jumped to his death after being overwhelmed by hospital bill just three days after being discharged. 39 years old Chege Kiarie committed double tragedy for being detained over unsettled medical bill.
In October last year, a 24-year mentally disturbed patient committed suicide using a bed sheet inside the psychiatric ward at Embu Level Five Hospital.