Doctors in Nairobi have been suspended for performing brain surgery on the wrong patient.
A case of mistaken identification tags caused a mix-up between two patients — one needed surgery for a blood clot on the brain, the other just nursing and non-invasive treatment for swelling after a head trauma.
It wasn’t until hours into the surgery that doctors discovered there was no blood clot, according to a report from the BBC news service.
Hospital CEO Lily Koros said the hospital "deeply regrets this event and has done all it can to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient in question.”
"We are happy to inform the public that the patient is in recovery and progressing well," Koros added.
Both the person operated on and the blood clot patient are in good condition, it said.
Apparently, this is the first time this type of mishap has occurred in the country. The neurosurgeon, the anesthetist and two nurses involved have been suspended.
The mix-up is reflective of a bigger problem, according to the country’s doctors union.
Ouma Oluga, chief executive officer of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union, told Reuters the mistake was indicative of an "overwhelmed" system and staff.
"These are quality system issues that should not be leveled at staff," Oluga said. “A shortage of medical staff and inadequate theater space make errors more likely…" he further noted. "Doctors are overwhelmed. You find one doctor could be doing 10 to 19 operations [in a day]."