Nurse Wins Appeal Against Suspension

The suspension of one of the nurses implicated in the death of the late Juliana Kleophas and her baby boy at the Katutura hospital has been reduced to six months following an appeal early this year.

Kleophas died on May 3, 2012, at the Katutura hospital after two days in labour. She was scheduled to undergo an elective Caesarean section on May 1, 2012, but it could not be carried out because it was on a public holiday.

It was later determined Kleophas died of amniotic fluid embolism.

Amniotic fluid embolism is a rare but serious condition that occurs when amniotic fluid – the fluid that surrounds a baby in the uterus during pregnancy – or fetal material, such as hair, enters the maternal bloodstream.

The three nurses, Isabel Akawa, Leopoldine Mbendeka and Bertha Mutikisha were found guilty of omitting and or neglecting to correctly diagnose Kleophas’ health needs, prescribe, provide and execute the correct nursing regimen.

They were last year suspended for two years during a hearing by the Health Professions Council of Namibia. One year of their suspension was however set aside. The nurses nevertheless appealed their suspension this year, citing, among others, that there was no fairness and transparency in the ruling.

A charge sheet signed by the Chairperson of the Appeal Committee of the Health Professions Council of Namibia, Theo Frank, recently states that Mbendeka’s appeal was successful in that of the one year suspension, six months will be suspended.

Mbendeka was not on duty on April 30 and May 1, 2012. She was on duty on the night of May 2-3, 2012. The room in which the deceased was, was also delegated to her and Akawa and Mutikisha and that she also attended the handover from the day staff when they all commenced duty that night shift.

However, they made a practical arrangement among themselves for that night and Mbendeka had to take responsibility for the other rooms delegated to them. As a result, Akawa and Mutikisha were directly responsible for the room in which the late Kleophas was in that night.

“… As a result of this arrangement appellant 2 (Mbendeka) never saw the deceased again that night until the next morning at the handover when she noted that the deceased was seemingly in labour,” reads the charge sheet.

It further reads that “whereas appellant 2 (Mbendeka) cannot avoid her responsibilities for the rooms delegated to her by this practical arrangement does not substantially reduce her moral blameworthiness and that her conduct cannot be equated with those of the other two appellants who directly assumed responsibility”, reads part of the charge sheet further. However, Akawa and Mutikisha’s suspension appeal was unsuccessful.

“… The appellants were the persons responsible from a nursing side on the critical night of 2 May 2012 to 3 May 2012 and for the investigations to have focussed on them is not arbitrary, unreasonable or capricious and hence in the committee’s view not unfair or unreasonable,” reads part of the charge sheet.

Furthermore, the charge sheet states that enough evidence was produced to establish the charges on a balance of probabilities.

“There was no duty to call witnesses simply because they were somehow involved but would not add anything to what has already been said. If these witnesses would provide evidence against the case for the prosecution nothing prevented the appellants from calling such persons as their witnesses,” the charge sheet reads.

Source : New Era