City Hospital Ordered to Pay Woman Ksh3 Million for Detention

  • An Image of a Court Hammer
    An Image of a Court Hammer
  • The High Court on Thursday, March 4 ordered a city hospital to pay a woman Ksh3 million after she was detained for allegedly failing to settle a hospital bill.

    Emma Muthoni had filled a case saying that she had spent two months at a Nairobi-based hospital and at the time she was due to be discharged, her bill was Ksh4 million.

    Justice Weldon Korir of the High Court ruled that a patient is not obligated to pay for bills accrued at a hospital when he or she is detained for failure to pay their medical bill.

    Inside a ward at Uthiru Hospital
    Inside a ward at Uthiru Hospital.

    While issuing the ruling, Justice Korir said that the hospital breached her rights. 

    “A declaration is hereby issued that the respondent, by unlawfully detaining the petitioner when she failed to pay her medical bills, infringed on her constitutional rights,” the judge ruled.

    Muthoni had told the court that she was taken to the hospital on March 23, 2018, after suffering stroke and was supposed to be discharged on May 14, the same year.

    However, her financial status did not allow her to clear the entire bill.

    The hospital had filed a counter-suit after she had sued them seeking to recover Ksh1 million in addition to the hospital bill, an amount that accumulated due the detention time.

    However, Muthoni said she could only pay Ksh1.2 million because she had to pay for her initial bill totaling Ksh1.7 million.

    “The petitioner has an obligation to pay her medical bill. I have already determined that the bill, when she was discharged, was Ksh3 million and there is undisputed evidence that the petitioner paid Ksh1.2 million, leaving Ksh1.7 million. She is under no obligation to pay any expenses incurred by the respondent in connection with her unlawful detention,” Justice Korir ruled.

    He also added that no compensation should be issued to anyone because of expenses incurred from unconstitutional acts.

    In a separate, earlier case, Justice Mumbi Ngugi on September 17, 2015, awarded two people Ksh1.5 million each for damages that accrued for being detained after failing to foot their medical bills.

    “I declare that the Kenyan government must take the necessary steps to protect all patients from arbitrary detention in healthcare facilities, which includes enacting laws and policies, and taking affirmative steps to prevent future violations,” judge Ngugi ruled.

    File image of the Kenya supreme court
    File image of the Kenya supreme court