x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Court awards Dh1.3m for botched impotence surgery

The Supreme Court has ordered an Abu Dhabi medical centre to pay Dh1.3m to a man whose penis was amputated following botched surgery for impotence.

ABU DHABI // The Supreme Court has ordered an Abu Dhabi medical centre to pay Dh1,300,000 in damages to a man whose penis was amputated during a botched surgery.

A retrial will also be held to determine whether the doctor who performed the operation, and the hospital in which it occurred, are liable for damages.

In the ruling, released yesterday, Chief Justice Abdulaziz Abdulaziz said courts must establish the responsibility of the people who made the mistake before convicting their employers.

“Allowing a person who suffered a damage to seek compensation from the employer for a mistake committed by an employee without involving the employee in the case is a violation of the spirit of the law,” Chief Justice Abdulaziz wrote.

According to the ruling, the man, who was not identified, went to an unidentified Abu Dhabi medical centre this year seeking help for erectile dysfunction. The centre referred him to one of its doctors, who ordered the surgery.

The doctor implanted a device in the man’s penis, but it did not improve the problem, the court was told. After several failed attempts to improve the device’s function, it was removed.

At that point, the documents said, the medical centre referred the patient to a separate hospital. The hospital assigned a German doctor, identified as VS, to operate on the patient, supervised by the medical centre; the surgery was meant to implant two devices.

But that surgery also failed, the court was told, and as serious complications arose that could have killed the patient, the doctor decided to amputate the man’s penis.

The patient sued the medical centre, the hospital and the doctor, demanding Dh800,000 in blood money for the amputation, damage to his testicles and the resulting impotence, and an additional Dh13.2m for “material and moral” damages.

The Court of First Instance ordered the medical centre to pay Dh1m but exempted the hospital and doctor from damages.
Both the medical centre and the patient appealed; the Abu Dhabi Court of Appeal increased the fine on April 27 to Dh1.1m. Again, both parties appealed.

In its argument to the Supreme Court, the medical centre said it could not be blamed for the doctor’s mistake because the doctor worked for the hospital where the surgery occurred, not the centre. It said both the lower courts ignored that point without explaining the legal grounds for those decisions.

The Supreme Court rejected that argument, however, ruling that the centre had hired the doctor to perform the operation.

The Supreme Court questioned the lower courts’ procedures in convicting the centre, which supervised the operation, without blaming the doctor who performed it.

Once responsibility was established, the chief justice said, justices should either fine the people who made the mistake, or them and their employers, but not solely the employer.

The chief justice rejected the argument made before the lower courts that the employer was solely to blame because of poor judgment in hiring workers, or supervising them properly.

The chief justice ordered a retrial under a new Supreme Court panel.

hhassan@thenational.ae