Understanding Medical Negligence in Uganda – The Legal Reports


It experienced been a chilly spell season the day was colder than a witch’s teat when Mr. Bunny (not authentic name) woke up with a throbbing stomach suffering.

Poised with his masculine raw moi, not to soldier on was a foul evil to his ancestors, he assumed till he could not. At all over 3:00 pm, he went to the healthcare facility wherever he was identified with gallstones in his gallbladder.

The doctors proposed a surgical elimination of the bladder and a operation was well timed embarked on. Nonetheless, through the operation, the surgeon wrongly identified his bile duct composition and eliminated the upper typical structure and the reduced composition together with the bladder.

To top it all off, a surgical error broken his liver and a further composition causing the bile to leak into his abdomen. After the surgery, Mr. Bunny was sent residence.

Recovery is what he hoped for, despair is what he braved. Although at home, he received a sudden-intense stomach suffering and was rushed to a close by medical center. At the hospital, he was certain that if he was to are living to battle a further working day, an unexpected emergency surgical procedure to re-build bile duct construction, employing his intestines, and handle the destruction was a necessity.

Despite the restorative surgical treatment, he now can under no circumstances perform lifetime responsibilities on his have. Definitely, what Mr. Bunny seasoned at the fingers of the first healthcare facility is much from terrible luck. His was a ball of sheer health-related negligence that strike a small way too hard.

The time period medical carelessness is applied synonymously with healthcare malpractice. It is a civil erroneous (tort) entitling a sufferer to solutions in courts of law.

This article enlightens on what constitutes professional medical carelessness, patient’s rights in relation to medical negligence, and the legal responsibility, and lawful therapies attainable in health-related negligence promises in Uganda.

Clinical negligence emanates from the normal domain of the regulation of carelessness that was set forth in the English situation of Donoghue Vs Stevenson [1932] UKHL 100, where it was founded that just one has a lawful responsibility to take fair care when relating with people who are so most likely to be impacted by their functions or omissions, breach or neglect of which offers rise to liability in negligence.

Clinical carelessness happens when a health-related or health and fitness care specialist, via a negligent act, omission or failure to act, deviates from a common of treatment in the healthcare occupation and causes injury to a affected individual.

It occurs from faults, actions, and omissions in diagnosis, remedy or surgery, aftercare, and administration of clients by wellness treatment companies and wellbeing services.

In Uganda, the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 as amended, and the Allied wellbeing industry experts Act cap, 268, the mandated supervisory and regulatory legislation for clinical observe present for and safeguard patient’s legal rights, a section of human rights that correlate with the sanctity and inviolability of human life.

In 2009, the Patients’ Charter (Uganda), was developed to elevate the standard of wellness care, empower sufferers to responsibly need great quality wellness treatment from overall health amenities, and inform sufferers of their entitlement to suitable overall health care with regard to its high quality assurance dependent on scientific need to have.

Noteworthy, each individual has a authorized right to suitable or great top quality professional medical care acceptable for his point out of health and fitness. It is a health and fitness treatment provider’s main obligation to prioritize this correct to attain an appropriate outcome for the affected individual.

Nonetheless, common perception dictates that every single overall health treatment supplier verily understands that a affected individual has not a second daily life phase.

Definitely, healthcare negligence undermines the efficacy of patients’ rights. Additional so, the audacity of Ugandans to desire accurate compliance with their patients’ legal rights by well being care companies is constrained by inadequate, absence of in-depth awareness of the legal rights.

This hurdle is akin to a obstacle of inequitable access to info on patients’ rights by individuals in most have to have. Therefore, victims of healthcare negligence discreetly bear the ache blame their fiscal incapacities on acquiring educated the good quality of wellness care acquired.

In truth, the Charter’s degree of benefit to an standard Ugandan is a laughable concept.
In 2019, the Regulatory Officer, Uganda Health-related and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC) disclosed that there are no precise data of clinical carelessness conditions in Uganda.

The imprecise studies on professional medical negligence have lessened the probability of effectively addressing the crisis of health-related carelessness.

Additional, the quasi-disciplinary actions taken by the UMDPC versus clinical employees, for occasion, warning the health-related practitioners, putting them on probation, withdrawing their license, and de-registration are a lingering mockery to the victims of healthcare carelessness.

Such are incapable of atoning the extent of the health care hurt or accidents and their implication on the actual physical, psychological, social, and monetary point out of the victims and/or their people. This has prompted the clinical stakeholders to bow to the fate of intense-adversarial court litigation.

In the professional medical sphere, occasions of professional medical negligence incorporate substandard treatment, unjustified delay in diagnosis, erroneous blood transfusion, inappropriate prognosis and/or therapy, completely wrong prescription, prognosis or treatment by a overall health treatment company outside the house his space of skills, deficiency of right health-related awareness though in the overall health facility’s treatment, leaving surgical objects in a patient’s system soon after surgical treatment, or utilizing unsterilized or infected instruments on a patient.

In a authorized context, for healthcare carelessness to exist and for a declare to be sustained, there really should be a wellness care service provider-affected person connection, a duty of care to a client, that duty of care will have to have been breached, and the breach have to be the causative component of the injuries to the affected person.

These legal features are highlighted as follows

Obligation of treatment

The obligation of treatment entails using realistic care or steps to prevent or not to result in damage or loss to a affected individual, who is a particular person underneath professional medical or psychiatric treatment, notice, or therapy.

It is a lawful obligation bestowed on a health-related worker to contemplate the foreseeable likelihood that his or her actions could outcome in damage to a individual, mainly because the romantic relationship or proximity for these types of harm to take place exists, and stay clear of the damage.

According to the case of Kabiito Vs Lawyer Standard & 2 Ors [2019] UGHCCD 197, which included a assert of negligence that caused maternal loss of life of a individual below labour, “ there exists a duty of care between the affected person and a doctor, medical center or overall health company, and once that relationhip is recognized, then the physician has a fourfold responsibility. A bash who retains himself as completely ready to give medical information or treatment impliedly undertakes that he is possessed of capabilities and know-how for the function and these kinds of particular person regardless of whether he is a registered medical practitioner or not, who is consulted by a affected person, owes him sure obligations namely, a duty of care in determining irrespective of whether to undertake the situation, a duty of treatment in selecting what treatment and a responsibility of care in his administration of a cure.”

Breach of obligation of care

For an act to be a breach of the responsibility of treatment and to amount of money to actionable clinical negligence, it have to be inconsistent with the standard of care and the follow approved or regarded by the career in a particular jurisdiction.

This posture was upheld by court docket in the circumstance of Kimosho Vs Wakapita & 2 Ors [2018] UGHCCD 71 when it held that, “to build legal responsibility of a wellness employee, it will have to be proven that there was a deviation from the standard apply, that the employee has not adopted the practice and that the training course adopted by the wellbeing employee is a person that no qualified everyday qualified particular person would have taken.”

The breach of the obligation of treatment by a medical employee happens when he/she falls short of the common of a acceptable medical employee. The conventional of treatment inside the healthcare realm introduces a question of whether a proficient and competent health care employee, beneath comparable instances, would have brought on the alleged clinical negligent act getting complained of.

The earlier mentioned scenario of Kimosho Vs Wakapita & 2 Ors (Supra) re-echoed this placement when court docket emphasised that, “with regard to healthcare carelessness, the obligation to choose care is at the level of following common observe and processes and what a fair normal professional medical professional would have accomplished and failure to do so may impute expert carelessness..”

With medical negligence, the typical of care is assessed at the stage of an normal proficient health-related employee. These kinds of an assessment was properly expounded on in the Substantial Court docket situation of Kabiito Vs Lawyer Normal & 2 Ors (supra) where Court observed that:

“the normal of treatment in health care carelessness differs from that of normal situations of negligence. If a professional man possesses an artwork, he will have to reasonably be skilled in it. He must also be mindful but the typical of treatment, which the regulation involves, is not insurance coverage versus accidental slips..in health-related negligence, the burden is to prove that the hurt was caused by negligence and was not a query of misadventure, and that load need to be discharged on a preponderance of proof.

“In health-related circumstances, the truth that something has gone improper is not alone evidence of carelessness. The exams utilised to create whether or not there was healthcare negligence or not is not a check of the gentleman on top of the clapham omnibus, due to the fact he has not acquired this unique ability. The test is the regular of the everyday expert person performing exercises and professing to have that unique skill and the genuine test of establishing negligence and treatment method on the component of the medical doctor is whether he has been proved to have been guilty of these kinds of failure as no physician of everyday talent would be responsible of it performing inside ordinary treatment ..”

Personal injury/injury as a final result of the breach of the duty of treatment

Relatedly, if there has been a breach of responsibility of care by a clinical employee, the client will have to have endured injury, destruction, loss of life, or hardship as a end result of the negligent act for a claim of health-related negligence to effectively suffice in court.

This is mainly because, in healthcare carelessness, a fault point of view is the lawful strategy on which scenarios of malpractice hinge. This signifies that authorized causation and harm/destruction should exist before healthcare negligence will give rise to a health-related negligence/malpractice situation.

A negligent act alone is insufficient to represent a valid assert the carelessness must be the induce of the hurt to a affected individual.
Impliedly, there could be a deviation from the suitable medical common of treatment in managing a patient and a breach of responsibility of care by a health care worker, but if the individual, his or her wellness is not impacted, that negligence will not lead to actionable professional medical negligence or a practical health care malpractice courtroom situation.

The negligent act turns into health care negligence when it harms the patient’s health care ailment/state harm to the client will make the patient’s affliction worse, brings about unreasonable and unforeseen difficulties, demise or necessitates supplemental health-related procedure, or leads to the individual to incur more monetary charges to control the personal injury occasioned by the negligence.

Legal responsibility

Legal responsibility is the condition of remaining lawfully dependable for some thing as a consequence of a breach of duty or an infringement of a appropriate of an additional.

In situations of medical negligence, equally the professional medical worker and the well being facility are legally dependable for the negligent act.

The practitioner is liable as the instigator of the negligent act though the wellbeing facility is liable as an employer of the professional medical employee.

The legal responsibility of a overall health facility falls underneath the notion of vicarious liability. Vicarious liability is a authorized idea invoked to impose stringent liability on a human being or entity which does not have principal legal responsibility not immediately the lead to of the wrongful action.

Vicarious liability compels a man or woman to be liable for the steps of a further if they are in a specific connection with the other person this sort of as an employer-employer partnership if the steps were actualized in the course of work.

Hence, in cases of professional medical negligence, businesses this kind of as private health amenities and the authorities, via the Attorney normal, for authorities health and fitness facilities are legally accountable for the negligent functions and wrongs of medical employees as their personnel if they ended up acting in the class of their employment.

The Substantial Courtroom in the Kimosho Vs Wakapita & 2 Ors (Supra) assented to this situation when it pointed out that, “In all scenarios of breach of responsibility or professional duty by an employee committed all through the training course of employment, the employer is vicariously liable…a healthcare facility is liable for the functions of its staff where by they are negligent …”

Authorized solutions

A authorized treatment refers to the indicates of imposing a correct or acquiring redress for a incorrect from a court of legislation. In clinical carelessness claims, the therapies consist of


Damages refer to a sum of dollars that the law quantifies and imposes as compensation to a individual for reduction or injuries brought on by yet another as a consequence of a breach of a duty or a violation of a suitable.

The principle that governs the award of damages in torts these as clinical negligence is that the target really should be put in a placement he or she would have been had the tort not been fully commited. The damages are

General damages

General damages are awarded be to atone for the decline of dependency if the go well with is introduced by dependents of the victim below the miscellaneous legislation reform Act for the unlawful dying of the clinical negligence target, or any health and fitness, bodily or physical consequence of the health care negligence on the sufferer.

Common damages are also awarded as compensation for the ache, struggling, mental and psychological affect and any inconvenience occasioned by the negligent act.

Distinctive damages

These are a sum-specific type of damages that are recoverable on evidence and are awarded to compensate for any true healthcare and funeral charges, in circumstance of demise of the victim, incurred.

To qualify for special damages, there is a have to have to give the particulars and precise amounts of such expenses and to demonstrate them, most feasibly, by documentary proof.

In absence of such, the victims have to be in a position to confirm that the costs or loss incurred was possibly a immediate or an implied consequence of the negligent act or omission, and any more outcomes as would be moderately contemplated.

Costs of litigation

This refers to a financial award granted by court docket demanding a bash to pay back to one more social gathering (the effective bash) the expenses incurred in prosecuting the court docket situation.


The prevalence of health-related negligence in Uganda is no for a longer period a secret. Its correlation with the deficiency in healthcare professionalism is apparent in each community and private well being facilities.

What stays unclear is how the ignorant victims of the carelessness achieve seemingly deserving redress against its perpetrators.

The minutiae of administrative remedies by the clinical council compel the victims and/or their households to implore courtroom litigation and experience its damaging emotional effect. To sustain a professional medical negligence case and attain cures, the aspects talked over over need to exist.

ABOUT Writer

Asasira Athens is a Legislation Practitioner/Advocate with M/S M. Mugimba & Co. Advocates.
For opinions and inquiries, call her at [email protected] or Mob: +256 771 478 596.


Resource connection