A few months ago, our 3 month old daughter didn’t wake up at night to feed like she usually does. The following morning we also found it difficult to wake her up. So when she still wouldn’t wake up at noon, we decided to have a doctor look at her.

We asked around and got advice that Gertrude’s Children Hospital in Muthaiga is the best place to take a sick baby. Naturally that’s where we took her.

We got to the hospital at 1.30 pm and didn’t get to see a doctor until 5 pm. By then we were tired and hungry. The loud football game and cheering fathers didn’t contribute to general ease and comfort either.

Finally a very young doctor saw our daughter. The consultation did not last more than 10 minutes. She suggested that the baby might have meningitis and the first and only suggestion she made was that we should check into the hospital for three to five days for an in-patient procedure input that includes a lumbar puncture/spinal tap.

This sounded so drastic and shocking to my husband and I. We asked the doctor about doing a blood test as an alternative, but she insisted we had to do a lumbar puncture – nothing less – if we were to be sure our daughter didn’t have meningitis.

After that we went to the accountant’s office to learn about the cost of inpatient admittance to Gertrude’s.

General ward is 8,500 a day and a deposit of 70,000 kes.

Private room with sharing toilet and bathroom is 12,000 or 15,000 a day with 100,000 kes deposit.

Private room with your own toilet and bathroom is 21,000 a day with a deposit of 120,000 kes

The doctor’s fee per visit would be 5,000 kes.

At this point, the hospital in-patient prices shocked me even more than the diagnosis. After a brief consultation between me, my husband and our mid-wife, we went back to the doctor to ask more about the procedure she was recommending, and to tell her that we would seek a second opinion.

The doctor stuck to her original diagnosis and made us sign a paper that stated we had rejected her advice.

After this we went to Aga Khan Hospital for the second opinion. The doctor there made absolutely no mention of meningitis.

She said the baby had low blood sugar, which was a likely cause of her not waking up. She then went on to say that, if we had problems waking the baby the following morning, only then we may have cause for concern, and should bring her back in for another look.

For the last two months, we have been working with our mid-wife to get someone we can make a complaint to about the quality of care we received at Gertrude’s. It seems no one at the establishment cares enough.

It’s extremely alarming that a such a young doctor, without receiving any guidance or support from a more experienced doctor, has the authority to prescribe, as a first line recommendation, a very costly, 3-5 day inpatient procedure, that includes a spinal tap, which is an extremely invasive procedure. What’s even more shocking is that the more experienced doctor at Aga Khan didn’t say one thing about meningitis.

I am posting this out of worry that our doctors are prescribing procedures children don’t need – simply to make money. Please be very careful, and share this with your friends.

Republished with permission from