ABU DHABI // A medical committee has been asked to look into the case of a doctor accused of causing the death of a three-year-old cancer patient by failing to give her a blood transfusion.
The Criminal Court, where the South African, Doctor Cyril Karabus, is on trial, assigned the Higher Committee for Medical Liability to the case during yesterday’s hearing. In cases where medical errors are alleged to have occurred the court asks the committee – formed of nine consultants – to give an expert opinion on what caused the death or injury.
The committee re-examines the case and holds its own hearings. It has the power to call whoever it wishes to hear from and can refer back to the court if it faces any complications in this regard.
Once the committee issues its report, the case returns to court for a final verdict. The committee’s report is expected to be ready before November 20, when the court is scheduled to reconvene.
The doctor is accused of failing to provide the blood transfusion and of later falsifying a report to hide his mistake to make it look as if the transfusion had been given.
Dr Karabus previously told the court that he had given the blood transfusion to the patient but that she died anyway. He said that hospital records would prove the transfusion took place.
The committee will examine three key points in Dr Karabus’s defence. Firstly, whether there was an increase in her blood platelet count, which would suggest a transfusion did take place. Secondly, whether she suffered fever and a blockage in a main artery which may have caused her death, and thirdly, it will examine why the patient’s body was not dissected in a postmortem.
“The committee’s specific role is to see whether there was a severe medical mistake made and whether the cause of death is linked to that mistake,” said Khalfan Al Kaabi, Dr Karabus’s lawyer.
“These people understand the risks of the medical profession,” he added.
The medical committee must include representatives from at least nine bodies: the Ministry of Health, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi, Forensic Medicine at the Ministry of Justice, Dubai Health Authority, Medical School at UAEU, Medical Services at Ministry of Defence, Medical Services at Ministry of Interior, the Emirates Medical Association and the private sector.
The committee must issue its report within 30 days, though the deadline can be extended with the permission of the court.
The court set bail for Dr Karabus at Dh100,000 to represent the value of the blood money the doctor would be ordered to pay if found guilty. Blood money is now Dh200,000, but at the time of the death in 2002, it was Dh100,000.