Doctor acquitted in negligence hearing

November 3, 2014, 10:41am

Doctor acquitted in negligence hearing

A medical doctor implicated in the death of 40-year-old Juliana Kleophas and her baby in the Katutura hospital maternity ward in May 2012 was acquitted of all the charges laid against her.

Dr Albertina Amupala, 32, appeared before the Medical and Dental Council of the Health Professions Council of Namibia on charges of misconduct.

Amupala was charged with failure to prescribe a medical or treatment plan (on how to handle the patient), failure to treat the patient and perform caesarean-section when it was scheduled and delay of treatment of the patient and the baby thereby causing their death.

In his verdict last week, the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing Committee of the Medical and Dentil Council, Dr Matti Kimberg cleared Amupala of charges.

Kimberg said there is “no real evidence or convincing evidence” to implicate Amupala to the charges laid against her.

He pointed out that Kleophas and her baby boy’s deaths cannot be blamed on one person only adding that “it is a system’s failure on various levels and Dr Amupala was made a scapegoat”.

It was heard when witnesses testified at the hearing on Tuesday and Thursday last week that patients are not assigned to a particularly medical doctor at the Katutura hospital.

It was also heard that the hospital has a hierarchy of medical personnel who attend to patients. This hierarchy is composed of a medical consultant, a medical officer (doctor), medical doctor intern, registered nurse and an intern nurse.

Reflecting on the testimonies heard during the disciplinary hearing last week, Kimberg noted that about nine doctors attended to the late Kleophas between April 30, 2012 when she was admitted for an elective caesarean-section (scheduled to take place on May, 1 2012) and May 3, 2012 when she and her baby boy died.

Kimberg questioned the hospital’s hierarchy of handling patients, adding that there was poor judgement from all the medical personnel in treating Kleophas during that period. This is despite her being a high risk patient, he noted.

Kimberg noted that at the time Amupala was a junior medical doctor who was just four months into the job and being assigned to a high risk patient while also having to juggle other patients at the maternity ward in Katutura hospital and at the Windhoek Central hospital was irresponsible.

He also said there was no report from the hospital management even though Kleophas and her baby died in the hospital. “The patient died in your hospital where is the report?,” he queried, stressing that the entire incidence was a system’s failure.

“What happened to the mother was unpreventable. But, we feel that what could have been saved was the baby,” said Kimberg. New Era understands that according to post-mortem results, Kleophas died of amniotic fluid embolism.

An 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. An amniotic fluid embolism is most likely to occur during childbirth or immediately afterward.

Amupala who was consoled by the presence of her colleagues including the medical superintendant of the Katutura hospital, Dr Nelago Amagulu, breathed a sigh of relief when Kimberg announced that “she is found not guilty” of the charges laid against her.

Courtesy New Era