A father from Olupaka village in Ohangwena Region is demanding compensation from medical staff at Okongo State Hospital, because of alleged negligence that led to the death of his newborn baby.
Although Dr Bolukaoto Franklin – the doctor who was on call on the night in question – maintains that there was nothing he and his team could do to save the baby’s life, Simon David is adamant that his boy’s life could have been saved had the nurses on duty called the doctor on time.
Bolukaoto, who is also the Chief Medical Officer at Okongo Hospital, explained that David’s child suffered from a condition known as shoulder dystocia, which occurs when the baby’s shoulders get stuck on the mother’s pelvis.
He said the condition mostly occurs in cases where the baby is too big. Bigger babies are normally unable to turn themselves in order to exit from the mother’s womb, which he says is a highly unpredictable situation.
This was Merjam Nghishongwa’s eighth pregnancy and since she had always delivered on her own, the medical staff could not foresee the unfamiliar situation, according to Bolukaoto.
David, who is now demanding ten heads of cattle, or alternatively N$15 000, says his 36-year-old wife Nghishongwa was taken to hospital on September 3 and was in labour for two days while at Okongo Hospital. She eventually delivered on the night of September 5.
While experiencing intense labour pains, the mother allegedly sensed that there was something wrong and asked the nurses on duty to call the doctor. “They ignored her at first, but when they realised that she was insisting too much, they arrogantly told her to stop nagging because they were doing their job,” David claims.
After a while, the nurses allegedly discovered that the baby was too big, and it was only then that they contacted the doctor on call. By the time the doctor arrived and helped the mother, the baby was exhausted. He cried only once before he went quiet.
“Had the nurses responded to my wife’s pleas, the doctor could’ve saved my baby’s life on his own, or he could’ve sent her to Oshakati Intermediate Hospital with the ambulance. Those nurses killed my baby,” the clearly emotional father insists.
David said he demanded to talk to the responsible nurses, but Bolukaoto refused. He also went as far as contacting the Regional Health Director’s office but still could not get any sufficient explanation.
“Since I cannot get answers, I just want them to pay for my baby’s life,” he said.
Dr Bolukaoto maintains that there was little that they could do to save the baby, as the hospital does not have sufficient infrastructure. “The father came to me five times and I explained to him what had happened. I also told him that if he needs compensation he should follow legal procedures, because I cannot pay him from my pocket.”
According to Bolukaoto, the situation at Okongo Hospital is not the same as that at Windhoek Central Hospital, where doctors on call have in-house sleeping facilities.
“At Okongo it takes five minutes for one to come from the doctors’ dormitories to the labour ward. It took us one minute to remove the baby from the mother’s pelvis, but before that, we had to remove one mother, who had just delivered, from the only labour bed that we have and put her to a normal bed before we placed the mother in question on the labour bed,” Bolukaoto explains.
He said Okongo Hospital is under-equipped, as it only has one labour bed and one normal bed in the labour ward, which makes it difficult, if not impossible, for two mothers to deliver at the same time.