NAIROBI – Staff from nurses to the CEO have been suspended at a Nairobi hospital after the wrong patient underwent brain surgery.
One patient needed surgery for a blood clot on the brain, the other only non-invasive treatment for swelling.
But a horrifying mix-up of identification tags saw the wrong man operated on, reports say.
The doctors did not realise their mistake until "hours into the surgery", the Daily Nation reported.
They then realised "there was no blood clot".
The patient who was operated on is recovering, the hospital says, and an investigation is under way. Regulators have demanded a report and plan to hold a hearing.
Social media users have expressed shock that such an incident could have been allowed to happen.
It comes only six weeks after the health minister ordered an investigation into claims new mothers were sexually assaulted at the same hospital.
After the incident which took place last weekend came to light, Kenyatta National Hospital's CEO Lily Koros said the hospital "deeply regrets this event and has done all it can to ensure the safety and well-being of the patient in question".
"We are happy to inform the public that the patient is in recovery and progressing well," Ms Koros added.
She said four staff – the neurosurgeon, ward nurse, theatre receiving nurse and anaesthetist – had been suspended.
"The management has suspended the admission rights of a neurosurgery registrar and issued him with a show-cause letter for apparently operating on the wrong patient," Ms Koros said. A show-cause letter requires a staff member to account for his or her actions.
But the doctor's colleagues have protested against the suspension, reports The Star, arguing the person who put on the identification tag is the one that should be punished.
And hours later Kenyan Health Minister Sicily Kariuki said Ms Koros herself and and a clinical affairs officer were being sent home on compulsory leave while the affair was investigated.