High Court Pins Dr. Karungi for Negligence That Led To Expectant Mother’s Death

The High Court in Fort Portal City has held Dr. Christine Karungi liable for negligence, which led to the tragic death of Tracy Biryomumaisho, an expectant mother who was admitted to Ntara Health Centre IV with labor pains, awaiting delivery.

The unfortunate incident occurred on the night of March 29th, 2022, when Biryomumaisho, who had been receiving antenatal care at Ntara Health Centre, checked in to deliver her child. She was allegedly neglected by the medical staff, ultimately resulting in her death.

In response to this loss, her brother, Muhammed Ahebwa, and her father, Keita, filed a lawsuit against Kitagwenda Local Government and Dr. Christine Karungi for negligence, along with Dativa Kyarikunda, a midwife at the health center. 

In an attempt to avoid facing legal consequences, Dr. Karungi, represented by her lawyer Rajab Arinaitwe of Mujurizi, Arinaitwe, and Byamukama Advocates, filed an application in court claiming that the deceased’s family lacked the legal capacity to sue her in her capacity as the medical officer on duty that fateful night.

However, the High Court presided over by Resident Judge Vincent Wagona, on June 8th, 2023, ruled that Dr. Karungi can indeed be sued by the parents of the late Biryomumaisho.

“It’s my view that the pleadings disclose that the plaintiffs enjoyed a right being the support they received from the deceased. That the right was violated by the defendant, who negligently caused death and the plaintiffs have suffered loss of the said support from the deceased, and the defendants are responsible including the 2nd defendant(Karungi). At this stage, the Court does not determine the merits of the parties’ claim…” the ruling reads.

Justice Wagona’s ruling included a condemnation of costs incurred during the application, amounting to Shs 20,000,000 (Twenty million only).

Speaking to Uganda Radio Network (URN), the deceased’s family lawyer, Counsel Aruho Amon of Mubiru & Aruho Advocates, confirmed the court’s decision and the imposed costs against Dr. Karungi. He refrained from providing further details about the case due to the subjudice rule.

According to court records, Biryomumaisho reported to Ntara Health Centre IV with labor pains on the morning of March 29th, 2022, but Dr. Christine Karungi, the designated medical officer, was not available and did not respond to calls from the patient’s caretakers. The patient’s condition worsened, leading to uterine rupture and fatal bleeding, while she waited for the doctor until midnight.

Dr. Karungi, who was also the Acting District Health Officer at the time, and her colleague Ms. Dativa Kyarikunda were both implicated in neglecting their duty, resulting in Biryomumaisho’s death.

Kyarikunda was specifically faulted for refusing to refer the patient to another health facility in a timely manner. The plaintiffs also held Kitagwenda District responsible for failing to fulfill its oversight mandate as the employer of both Dr. Karungi and Kyarikunda at Ntara Health Centre IV.

Following the court ruling, the case is scheduled for a hearing on September 21st, 2023, awaiting final judgment.

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