Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Jump in medical complaints doesn't mean Dubai doctors are making errors

A total of 283 complaints had been received by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) by last Wednesday, although the final tally for the year is expected to top 300.

DUBAI // Almost 300 medical complaints have been filed so far this year but Dubai's health authority says that does not mean doctors are making more errors.

A total of 283 complaints had been received by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) by last Wednesday, although the final tally for the year is expected to top 300, said Dr Layla Al Marzouqi, the authority's head of the clinical governance.

The figure is more than double the amount in 2010 (130) and higher than last year's total of 276, but that does not indicate a rise in medical errors, she said.

"More people are becoming aware of their rights," Dr Al Marzouqi said. "DHA is enlightening people that this facility is available.

"This is all about awareness among people. It has nothing to do with the level of care."

Just under half of the complaints, 137, were deemed valid by the authority, meaning they fell into one of three categories: minor, moderate or major.

The invalid cases were usually instances that could be resolved by discussion and not all of the valid complaints were classed as malpractice.

The increase in complaints filed is also due to the growing number of healthcare centres in the emirate, said Dr Al Marzouqi.

She said that by far the most cases, 114, came from the private sector. The number of cases that went to court was not available.

Poor communication between doctor and patient, sometimes the result of a language or cultural barrier, has been cited as another of the main reasons leading to complaints.

This can also occur between medical staff, which can lead to improper documentation and an increased risk of error.

Although medical errors can and do occur, the number of complaints can be reduced if incidents are explained clearly to patients, said Dr Al Marzouqi.

"After every year we analyse the hospital complaint records," she said. "One of the hospitals has a very small number of complaints compared to other hospitals.

"When we asked why the number was low, the doctor said that whenever an error happens, he sits down and talks to the family and the doctor [responsible for the case]."

By keeping all parties informed, hospitals and clinics can reduce the number of complaints filed by patients.

Any complaints made by healthcare workers will normally be dealt with by the hospital for which they work, she added.

The authority runs education workshops in improving communication and, in some cases, will recommend that certain centres create their own guidelines.

The DHA has also put forward suggestions for changes to the federal 2008 Medical Liability law, which will help to reduce the number of errors and complaints.

"The law, as it is, is doing the work but everything needs improving. Day by day, new issues have been coming up and they should go into that law," Dr Al Marzouqi said.

In the meantime, the authority is pushing hospitals and clinics to take matters into their own hands, she added.

"We write to the facilities asking them to develop policies, for which we usually give them two to three months."

Accreditation from internationally recognised organisations is another way to improve or introduce structural changes.

"We encourage the healthcare facilities to be accredited by well-known bodies," Dr Al Marzouqi said.

"For example, Joint Commission International accreditation requires documentation, so we encourage these things."

Although the number of complaints filed has surpassed last year's total, there have been fewer people blacklisted, she said.

"In 2011, 15 people had their licences revoked. This year, nine people have had their licences revoked and they have also been blacklisted."

Although no specific examples were given, those nine people committed serious infractions, according to Dr Al Marzouqi.

"The treatment they offered to the patient was not up to the standard. The patient was harmed and the harm was [severe].

"We don't revoke licences for no reason."

Health Authority - Abu Dhabi would not provide statistics on complaints made to it.


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Thai anti-government protesters blow whistles during a rally at the Metropolitan Electricity Authority in Bangkok, Thailand. Rungroj Yongrit / EPA

Best photography from around the world April 23

The National View's photo editors pick the best of the day from around the world

 Visitors look at the medieval inventor Al Jazari’s water-powered Elephant Clock. The clock is on show at the 1001 Inventions exhibition at Sharjah Expo Centre. Photos Antonie Robertson / The National

1001 Inventions: in praise of Islam’s gifts to the world

Down the centuries, from camera obscura to designing a sail that allowed early seafarers to tack into the wind, Muslim scientists have made many significant contributions to science. Rym Ghazal and Asmaa Al Hameli visit an exhibition in Sharjah that celebrates those contributions

 Mumbai Indians fans cheer they team on the opening match between Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2014 at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Earn cash back with the IPL cricket in the UAE

Dunia finance promotion allows cricket lovers to earn up to 6 per cent unlimited cash back on any spending they make on a day when an IPL match is played in the UAE.

 Manager Jose Mourinho of Chelsea looks on from the dug out during the Champions League semi-final first leg match against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. Paul Gilham / Getty Images / April 22, 2014

‘Now the game of our lives is at Stamford Bridge’ says Mourinho after Chelsea, Atletico draw

After Tuesday's scoreless draw, Jose Mourinho revealed Petr Cech's season was over and John Terry was also done unless they could reach the Champions League final.

 Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College students participate in the 2014 Innovation Challenge. Delores Johnson / The National

In pictures: the UAE Innovation Challenge 2014

The engineering competition brought together almost 100 students from across the country competing in teams to build the best unmanned aircraft.

 Former Manchester United manager David Moyes, right, speaks to Manchester United's Welsh midfielder Ryan Giggs during a training session at the team's Carrington training complex in Manchester, north-west England on April 22, 2014. Andrew Yates / AFP

Giggs a better fit for Manchester United than Moyes

The winger, who has played 962 games for the club, has been placed in interim charge of the first team and will be assisted by his former Manchester United teammate Nicky Butt.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National