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Zimbabwe: Doctors Sued Us$260k After Wrong Op Left Patient Crippled

Two local doctors, Gilbert Mwera and K Naik have been slapped with a US$250 000 lawsuit by an award-winning Japanese-born martial artiste, Harunobu Chiba, after they wrongly diagnosed him before carrying out an operation which left him crippled.

The two doctors are being sued together with the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council of Zimbabwe, their governing board, which allegedly failed to take action when Chiba raised complaints against the two doctors.

According to the summons now before the High court, Chiba is now unable to perform his karate dojo and coach his students because he is crippled.

Mwera, according to court papers, is a specialist neurosurgeon and also a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe while Naik is a specialist radiologist practicing at MRI diagnostic Centre, also known as Baines Imaging Group of the Medical Centre.

According to the summons, in March 2015, Chiba was injured on the back and underwent diagnostic Magnetic Resonance Imaging commonly known as MRI by the two doctors he is now suing.

The court papers also show that Naik produced a report which indicated that Chiba’s vertebral discs number 9 and 10 were normal, but that 10 and 11 were deformed and displaced yet the situation was vice-versa.

Chiba said he paid US$1 000 for the report whose images were also out of focus.

On the basis of this report, in April Chiba underwent a surgical operation at the Avenues clinic on his vertebral discs 10 and 11 which required no surgery, and paid US$3 736.

Instead of recovering he got worse and ended up failing to walk and urinating.

Chiba was then airlifted to Japan for treatment at Saku General hospital.

It was discovered by the specialists on June 4, 2015, at the first MRI examination that the hernia injury to his spine was intact and unattended to.

It was also discovered that Naik had identified the wrong vertebrae for correction that is numbers 10 and 11 instead of numbers 9 and 10.

It was also established that Naik’s images were out of focus and unreliable causing Mwera to operate on the wrong vertebrae which required no attention and damaged it.

“In doing so the doctors acted wrongfully and unlawfully in failing to exhibit the level of skill and care that is expected of them,” said Chiba in his declaration.

Court papers show that Chiba was then operated on to remove the hernia and install stabilising bolts and nuts on vertebrae numbers 9 and 10 that the local doctors had missed.

He said he paid US$17 767 for the procedure and started improving after the corrective surgery.

In June 2018 Chiba was able to walk again though with difficulties and numbness in both legs and around his annul area.

The court has been told that Chiba required extensive and intensive treatments that he underwent at Nagano Prefectural Rehabilitation Centre from 2015 up to the end of August 2018.

He said he was in excruciating pain all the time and severely ill to such an extent that he was physically and psychologically incapacitated to organise any of his affairs and totally relied upon his caregivers.

Chiba said he spent US$2 505 on his rehabilitation and US$60 000 on accommodation and subsistence paid to the municipality of Nagano during this three-year period.

He said during the period of convalescence he required business class air travel and the assistance of his son in respect of which he spent US$9 22 for two return tickets and a one-way ticket.

He said during his three-year absence period after his return to Zimbabwe in September 2018, he lost income from his karate dojo amounting to US$ 12 300.

Chiba also said he also incurred sundry expenses amounting to US$500 for expenditures such as a wheelchair hire, transport, and telephone calls to japan for medical review purposes.

The total expenditure incurred according to go the summons is US$90 967.