x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Heart patient awarded Dh1.5m over swab left inside his body

A Dubai hospital and one of its doctors will have to pay about Dh1.5m (US$400,000) to a patient who nearly died after a swab was left in his body following heart bypass surgery.

DUBAI // A hospital and one of its doctors will have to pay almost Dh1.5 million (US$400,000) to a patient who nearly died after a swab was left in his body after heart bypass surgery. The amount set by Dubai Civil Appeals Court, which still could be taken to the Dubai Court of Cassation, is a significant increase on the Dh910,000 that was originally fixed by a lower civil court. Dr Abdelrazak Mohammed, 51, a university lecturer and urologist, had sued Welcare Hospital and Dr Andre Wessels, who performed the operation, for gross negligence. Both denied liability. The amount that each party has to pay has not been specified as the hospital is currently suing Dr Wessels over the incident.

Dr Ottmar Schmidt, a spokesman for the hospital, said the case was ongoing and it could not comment. Dr Abdelrazak, a Libyan, originally claimed Dh5.17m. His lawyer, Omar al Shaikh of Hadef and Partners Dubai, said: "I believe the judgment is correct in its conclusion that the doctor and hospital were liable but the amounts ordered do not represent a fair compensation, bearing in mind that the plaintiff is a specialist and lecturer. "My client declined to take criminal action against the doctor, claiming that he does not want to send a colleague to jail. That should be highly appreciated." According to case records, Dr Abdelrazak had a bypass operation at Welcare on March 3, 2006, and was discharged on March 11.

He returned to Libya one week later and was admitted to hospital with high blood pressure, fever and loss of appetite. An infection built up in his chest which required two operations. Tests revealed a foreign body in Dr Abdelrazak's chest, and he went to Britain for further investigation. Dr Abdelrazak was admitted to University Hospital, Cardiff, where doctors found a rolled-up swab behind his heart. On May 30 an operation was performed to retrieve the 37cm by 34cm swab.

On January 14 2007, Dr Abdelrazak was again rushed to the Cardiff hospital with severe chest pains. A biopsy was performed and doctors said the bypass operation performed in Dubai had failed and placed Dr Abdelrazak's life at risk. Dr Abdelrazak said in his claim that the complications had put him in more than three near-death situations. He claimed Dh667,301 in medical expenses, Dh1.5m for his loss of practice, and Dh3m in moral and physical damages. He appealed against the earlier award, saying it was too little, and the hospital appealed against the ruling.

The Civil Appeals Court awarded Dr Abdelrazak Dh350,000 financial compensation, Dh150,912 for the costs of treatment in Libya, Dh212,060 for the cost of treatment in Britain, Dh616,924 for the loss of earnings in Libya and Dh150,000 in moral damages. The court ruled that if either party failed to pay, it could result in imprisonment, while the hospital could have its licence revoked, according to Dubai civil code. During the hearing, the court heard that forensics experts from Dubai Police confirmed the malpractice, said Mr al Shaikh. amustafa@thenational.ae