Specialist neurosurgeon in trouble for saving life

BY CHARLES LAITON

Parirenyatwa Hospital-based neurosurgeon Aaron Musara has accused the institution’s department of anaesthesia and clinical medicine of neglecting and refusing to attend to patients in need of urgent surgical operations.

He said this had resulted in the unnecessary death of many patients at the country’s biggest referral hospital.

Musara made the remarks in his court application in which he is seeking an order to compel the hospital’s authorities to nullify an adverse report against him which it authored and kept in his personal file.

The report suggests that the surgeon carried out an unprocedural and inappropriate operation on a patient despite the fact that the hospital’s head of anaesthesia and clinical medicine refused to assist him.

“This conduct also poses serious emotional and psychological challenges to surgical teams as sometimes patients die in our full view due to delayed and/or cancelled surgical operations occasioned by the absence of anaesthetic services…in December 2018, I lost a patient, by the name Gloria Shambare, who we had failed to operate on for 52 days due to persistent refusal by anaesthetists to render their services” Musara said.

Musara, who is also a senior lecturer in the neurosurgery unit at the University of Zimbabwe said he was now being tormented by the hospital’s authorities after taking an independent decision to administer general anaesthesia on one Shadreck Musekiwa.

He said this was after the hospital’s anaesthetic team refused to anaesthetise the patient on the basis that they wanted to attend lectures.

“I further explained to him the urgent need to operate on the patient on the day in question. I further pleaded with him to put the patient to sleep to avoid the emotional assault that comes with watching a patient who can potentially recover deteriorate right before us,” Musara said in his affidavit.

“He (head of anaesthesia) advised that the operation was to be cancelled as he had also briefed his consultant and they had made a decision to cancel the operation…he walked out of the operating room, leaving my team and I stranded.”

Musara said with a full appreciation that the patient was only left to the surgical team and no specialised anaesthetic services available, he took the bold decision to administer general anaesthesia upon Musekiwa and the team carried out a successful operation.

However, after Musara’s successful operation on his patient, the head of the division of anaesthesia and clinical medicine, lodged a complaint with the hospital’s acting clinical director, Aspect Jacob Maunganidze, accusing Musara of misconduct in the manner he had handled Musekiwa’s case.

“To my surprise, I was served with a letter on August 8, 2019 where, inter alia, the second respondent ruled that when I administered general anaesthesia upon Musekiwa on June 5, 2019, I acted in an unprocedural and inappropriate manner. He further advised that the communication would be kept in my personal file for future reference,” he said.

Musara further said Musekiwa’s case was not isolated in that it was actually the habit of the division of anaesthesia and clinical care medicine for consultants and students to provide services only up to 1pm.

“They abandon work between 1pm and 4pm citing very flimsy reasons like attending lectures and meetings. This is inspite of the fact that the operation list for the hospital runs from 8am to 4pm. Thus, from 1pm surgical operations are cancelled due to absence of anaesthetic services,” Musara said.

The matter is pending.