Some medical practitioners in the country are being investigated for negligence and unprofessional conduct after 10 patients died under their varied care. Two other doctors have since been suspended from duty after their negligence was proved. Information obtained by The Sunday Mail shows that the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe handled 15 maternal and 35 surgical (table) deaths in 2016 alone.
Two led to staff suspensions, 10 are under investigation while the remainder were dismissed for lacking evidence.
Responding to written questions from this paper, MDPCZ registrar Mrs Josephine Mwakutuya said, “It is important to note that in terms of Statutory Instrument 93, cases of maternal deaths or deaths that occur within 24 hours after an operative procedure are reported to council. Council investigates to determine whether the care was below expected minimum standards of practice.
‘‘In 2016, council received 50 cases — 35 table deaths and 15 maternal deaths. Two practitioners were charged for practising below minimum standards.
‘‘One was suspended for a period of six months, the other one had a suspended sentence of six months.”
Mrs Mwakutuya continued: “Ten cases from last year are still under investigation since this involves extensive documentary evidence from all the practitioners involved in the management of the patients as well as obtaining independent opinions in the specialty under investigations.
“We cannot, however, disclose the nature of offences they were charged (with) as this would be unprofessional.
‘‘Council did not revoke any licences in 2016. It only suspended two practitioners from practice for a period of six months. These cases concerned allegations of unprofessional conduct arising from practising below expected standards.”
Negligence and unprofessional conduct have been plaguing the health sector over the last few years.
In 2014, 70 doctors were probed for negligence and incompetence, which, in some instances, led to patients suffering life-threatening complications.
One doctor’s practising licence was cancelled after he played a part in an avoidable still-birth.
The medical practitioner was ordered to enrol for further training.
In 2015, a Bulawayo family accused doctors at Mpilo Central Hospital of negligence that led to the death of their three-week-old child.
Last year, a Premier Service Medical Aid Society-run hospital and one of its doctors were sued for US$120 000 for administering wrong treatment on a five-year-old girl, causing her chronic foot and leg ulcers and permanent disability.
The MDPCZ, a statutory body established by the Health Professions Act (Chapter 27:19), is mandated to regulate medical and dental practitioners.