The Ministry of Health last week suspended a medical doctor at Masaka Hospital in Kicukiro District, accusing him of neglecting patients, including a five-year-old child.
The allegations, leveled against Dr Antoine Twahirwa, were made last Thursday on Twitter by a user identified as Denise Mug via the handle @2nizmug, claiming that her five-year old niece who was admitted at the hospital lacked proper medical attention due to negligence on the part of the doctor who was on duty.
This, according to the twitter thread posted by Denise, aggravated the child’s illness until she was later transferred to Rwanda Military Hospital, Kanombe.
She claimed that, despite failing to provide appropriate care, the hospital declined to give them transfer to another hospital because apparently, the transfer needed to be sanctioned by the same doctor.
According to the thread, the doctor only signed the transfer document after being pestered for hours by family members.
The Twitter user also claimed that the same doctor was inebriated.
Another social media user commented on the same thread, saying that another patient had died of neglect around the same time.
However, the Director of Masaka Hospital, Dr Marcel Uwizeye, has since rejected this. “No one died at the hospital around that time,” he said.
But he admitted that the doctor in question could have done more to help the five-year-old girl who was later transferred to Kanombe Military Hospital.
Efforts to get a comment from Dr Twahirwa were futile as his known mobile phone number was off by press time.
Malick Kayumba, the head of Rwanda Health Communication Centre, said that on Friday, the Minister for Health Dr Diane Gashumba alongside members of the Medical and Dental Council visited the hospital and held a meeting in an effort to clearly understand the situation.
“The issue was about negligence involving a doctor who didn’t serve a patient as he should have done which resulted into aggravation of the illness. Preliminary investigations showed that the doctor could have erred and the minister suspended him pending further investigation,” he said.
For now, his case is under investigation by Rwanda Medical and Dental Council, which will do a detailed report, while Rwanda Investigation Bureau has also picked interest in the case because mistakes committed in the medical domain may end up being criminal in nature, he explained.
The other concerned personnel has also been reprimanded in various ways and these include the hospital management which didn’t react in good time when the issue was first raised, Kayumba said.
The investigations will determine the extent of the errors committed by the doctor in question and his colleagues which will then inform the next course of action, he added.
“The ministry calls on all health workers in the country to handle patients with respect and offer them the services they need on time,” he said, adding that the level of care afforded to a patient is itself crucial to the healing process even before any treatment is administered,” he said.
Health professional found guilty of neglect and other forms of misconduct could lose their operational license or even face criminal prosecution.