City hospital sued for detaining patient over Sh4m bill

Last month, the High Court ruled that it is unlawful to detain patients who have not cleared their medical bills. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A case has been filed at the High Court to challenge a city hospital’s decision to detain a patient over non-payment of Sh4 million medical bill.

This comes at a time it has become common for patients to move to court to protest unlawful detention by hospitals over failure to clear bills.

Last month, the High Court ruled that it is unlawful to detain patients who have not cleared their medical bills.

Justice Wilfrida Okwany ruled on September 25 that hospitals should relook at their debt recovery policy and admission of patients to avoid scenarios of their patients dragging them to court. “I find holding the patient is not one of the acceptable avenues for debt recovery," she said.

Even though the judge said hospitals have a duty to recover their debts, she pointed that it will be prudent to do so within lawful means. She also cautioned Kenyans against walking into hospitals expecting to walk out without paying a single cent under the guise of the constitutional protection of liberty and freedom of movement.

She ruled in a case filed by a patient, who had been taken to Nairobi Women’s Hospital after a road accident. Mr Daniel Kilundo was detained for failing to clear a Sh1,033,196 bill. The judge ordered the hospital to release him.

On Tuesday, a woman who has been hospitalised for two months at the same hospital after suffering from stroke moved to the court to challenge her detention at that facility.

Ms Emmah Muthoni Njeri claimed that her rights had been severely infringed upon by the hospital.

“It is in the interest of justice that an order be issued compelling the hospital to stop unlawful detention pending the hearing and determination of this matter,” said Ms Njeri's lawyer Mutunga Mwanzia.

Ms Njeri said she was first admitted to the hospital on March 23 and was supposed to be discharged on May 14.

She said her bill was Sh3,140,144.39 but she only managed to pay Sh1,351, 510.

She alleged that she offered proposals on how to offset the balance but the hospital rejected them and detained her.

She said the facility continues to charge her Sh5,000 daily and the bill has now accumulated to Sh4,029,429.16.


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