x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Doctor 'wrongly blamed for baby death', Dubai court told

Doctor claimed she was defamed by two colleagues who sent an email to 3,000 patients claiming she had been fired for causing the death of a baby.

DUBAI // A doctor was defamed by two colleagues who emailed 3,000 patients and claimed she caused a baby's death, a court was told yesterday.

JK, 67, from Sweden, learnt from a patient that staff at her former workplace, a medical centre in Jumeirah, contacted people and blamed her for the death.

It was claimed she caused the death by failing to prescribe a vital antibiotic to a pregnant mother.

The patient who told the doctor said a nurse at the centre had also told her in person that the medic had been fired after a lawsuit was filed by the baby's family.

The email was sent in May last year, but the doctor did not learn about it for two months.

The doctor admitted the baby died in 2010 but said it was not her fault and that the lawsuit was filed not only against her, but also the medical centre and the American Hospital.

"[The death] was not my fault as the results of the tests that showed the patient suffered from a bacterial infection were not shown to me by the nurses," testified the doctor.

She said two medical committees ruled she was not responsible of the baby's death.

Subsequent emails sent by her former manager KA, 50, from Hungary, and a nurse, RE, 35, from the UK, to the centre's staff and patients were therefore defamatory, she said.

The manager admitted mentioning the case in an email but said he did this only after the doctor herself emailed staff and patients informing them of the case.

"We started receiving many emails and calls from patients inquiring about the death, therefore I replied saying that [the Swedish doctor] left but that we would continue to give any help required to the centre's patients," he said.

The doctor said she had mentioned the case in an email, but only after her manager met with staff and told them about the lawsuit. She said she emailed her colleagues to explain that the case was not against her alone.

But the manager said the complaint was only one of the reasons behind her dismissal, claiming she failed to renew her licence for three months and had skipped work for 24 days without taking leave.

"The complaints against her were increasing," he said.

The nurse admitted emailing the centre's staff and some patients, but said she did so only after the email from the centre's manager.

"The email I sent did not mention anything about the reasons behind the doctor leaving work, it only said she left due to work reasons," the nurse said.

The manager and the nurse both denied a charge of defamation. A verdict was scheduled for May 28.

salamir@thenational.ae