Friday June 13 2014

Dr Ssali acquitted of patient’s death

Dr Tamale Ssali (C), with relatives at Buganda Road Magistrate’s

Dr Tamale Ssali (C), with relatives at Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court in Kampala yesterday. PHOTO BY MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI 

By Betty Ndagire

Kampala- Buganda Road Magistrate’s Court yesterday acquitted a gynaecologist, Dr Ssali Tamale, of charges of negligence that led to the death of a patient at his hospital three years ago.

The Chief Magistrate, Ms Olive Kazaarwe, acquitted Dr Ssali, the director of Women’s Hospital International and Fertility Centre in Bukoto, on grounds that the prosecution failed to bring the lead suspect Dr Rafique Parker, the doctor who carried out the surgery, to court.

Dr Ssali was acquitted together with Mr Christopher Kirunda.
Dr Parker, who is based in Nairobi and the lead suspect, has never reported to court on charges of causing the death of Mercy Ayiru, whom he operated on for fibroids in 2010.

Court said the prosecution erred when they chose to rely on a statement made by Dr Parker, allowing him to escape justice and instead brought criminal charges against Dr Ssali and Mr Kirunda.

“The State choosing to proceed with a case in absence of the lead suspect (Dr Parker) has cost it in the end since his opinion is regarded by court as hearsay,” the magistrate ruled.

“There is no way this court could convict Dr Ssali since he was not in the operation room as it is only the surgeon, an anesthetist and a nursing officer who are allowed in the operation room and he is none of those.
Court also has no direct evidence proving that Mr Kirunda (an anesthetist) never performed his duty, since the patient passed on 20 minutes into the operation,” Ms Kazaarwe said.

On October 14, 2010 the late Ayiru was operated on for fibroids at Dr Ssali’s hospital but the surgery went wrong and she died.

Dr Ssali was accused of failing to supervise the anesthetist, Mr Kirunda. A postmortem report indicated the deceased died of cardiac arrest.
The prosecution produced five witnesses to prove its case against the doctor.

Speaking to the Daily Monitor, after the court judgment yesterday, Ms Mulburga Atcero, a sister to the deceased, said they would appeal the acquittal.