The alleged negligent removal of the womb of a 30-year-old patient of the LEKMA Hospital, without her consent, has landed the medical facility in trouble.
The woman, now childless, was at the Teshie-based Municipal Hospital to be delivered of her first baby, which came out successfully after a caesarean section.
But the victim, Ms Doris Oppong, who has sued the hospital, later complained of severe abdominal pains due to post-partum hemorrhage, for which she was rushed back to the theatre, where her uterus was removed, allegedly without her consent, making her barren for the rest of her life.
Ms Oppong and her husband, Thomas Addai, alleged in their suit at the Accra High Court that the healthy male infant she had been delivered of and who had been placed under the care of the medical officers of LEKMA was negligently and wrongly fed by a nurse, causing him to suffer from asphyxia neonatorum – a condition that affected his ability to take in oxygen, resulting in his death three days after he was born.
According to a writ of summons filed by Ms Oppong, the loss of her womb could have been avoided had the medical team at the LEKMA Hospital applied best practice of care.
It is her case that the doctors at LEKMA allegedly failed to inform her of the situation that necessitated the urgency of the second surgery and also failed to obtain consent from her or her family, in accordance with the Patients’ Charter of the Ghana Health Service, neither did they do so after the procedure.
Response of LEKMA
The Administrator of the LEKMA Hospital, Charles Banafo, when contacted, stated that the hospital followed all the relevant protocols of best practice in attending to their patients.
“LEKMA is doing everything humanly possible to give the best of healthcare, as enjoined by the Ghana Health Service,” Mr Banafo said.
“We do not compromise on quality, and for that matter the interest of our service clients is always protected, as stated by the slogan of the Ghana Health Service: ‘Your health, our concern’,” the hospital administrator emphasised.
Uterus in bucket
In her suit, Ms Oppong alleged that officers at LEKMA failed to disclose the loss of her uterus to her until a nurse distastefully came to her bedside and unexpectedly beckoned her to have a look at her removed uterus in a bucket, a situation she was not aware of and unprepared for, which traumatised her as a result.
“The plaintiff’s left ovary has been removed without her knowledge or consent, an action which officers of the 2nd Defendant neglected and/or failed to disclose to her, and the reasons for that ovary removal are still unknown”, the suit stated.
Ms Oppong alleged in her statement of claim that the grossly negligent conduct of the medical officers at LEKMA had plunged her into premature menopausal conditions, decades ahead of her time, coupled with the perpetual anxiety of a permanent loss of procreation ability.
“The plaintiff has lost the very existence of her relevance in society as a woman and has been deprived of the joy of motherhood at such a young age, compounded with the post-traumatic stress disorder she has been subjected to,” the suit stated.
It is the case of the couple that LEKMA Hospital either failed or neglected to apply the requisite skill and care that was reasonably expected in managing the post-operative hemorrhage of Ms Oppong.
The officers of the hospital, according to the plaintiffs, chose to perform a total hysterectomy (a procedure to remove womb) without recourse to other preventive measures, considering Ms Oppong’s reaction within 24 hours of the surgery.
They also argued in their suit that the failure of the hospital to apply the requisite standards of neonatal care, especially those applicable in feeding babies, resulted in the condition that killed their baby.
The couple are, therefore, asking the General Jurisdiction division of the Accra High Court for compensation for the loss of Ms Oppong’s uterus due to the alleged negligence of the hospital’s medical team.
They are also asking for compensation for the injury that negligently caused the death of their baby, as well as compensation for the loss of their child due to negligence, allegedly, on the part of the hospital’s nurses.
Additionally, they are asking for compensation for the pains, anxiety and the post-traumatic disorder they are going through for their loss.
In their statement of claim, the plaintiffs averred that they went to the health facility on June 17, 2019 and Ms Oppong was admitted in anticipation of safe delivery.
According to them, the victim delivered a healthy male infant the following day and was subsequently moved from the operating theatre to the recovery ward in a presumably stable condition.
In the suit, Ms Oppong said that a few hours after her movement from the theatre to the recovery ward, she regained consciousness but complained of severe abdominal pains arising from the operation, which were followed by bleeding.
She further claimed that she was in excruciating pain, to the extent that she was unable to breastfeed the baby, who was then in the care of the nurses of the hospital.
Ms Oppong said on June 19, 2019, she was rushed back to the theatre due to the “overwhelming abdominal pain” and hemorrhage, where she was diagnosed of an iatrogenic infection arising from the caesarean section procedure which resulted in the loss of her womb.
Again, Ms Oppong claimed that through the negligence of the officers of the hospital, she suffered the loss of her uterus at a very budding age of 28 years, a situation which, she argued, deprived her of reproductive ability for life.
She argued that the “irreparable damage” she suffered could have been prevented had the officers of the hospital applied any of the best practices of standard of care owed her.
Again, Ms Oppong’s left ovary, according to the court suit, had been removed without her knowledge or consent, an action which officers of the hospital either neglected or failed to disclose to her.