x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Hospital errors left newborn girl brain-damaged

Baby who did not receive enough oxygen at her birth in a private hospital was left severely disabled.

ABU DHABI // As soon Ola Aljabiri was born, on January 20 last year, her father realised something was terribly wrong. As a doctor, he knew that the fact that the baby was not crying when she was delivered signified she was not receiving enough oxygen. He was also aware that not enough was being done by staff to address it. "At birth, it's such a critical stage that the lack of oxygen led to permanent damage," he said yesterday.

The private hospital two which Dr Ali Aljabiri, an Iraqi who has lived in the UAE since 2005, had taken his 36-year-old wife had no neonatal unit, let alone an incubator. Moreover, the woman who delivered Ola did not have a medical licence to practise. It was not until several hours after the birth that Ola was taken to a hospital for appropriate medical attention, but by then it was too late. Today she is irreparably brain-damaged, completely paralysed, unable to speak or eat and is fed by a through a tube that goes into her stomach.

Incensed at the treatment of his daughter in the hours after she was born, Dr Aljabiri launched a court action against the woman who delivered Ola and the hospital. Yesterday, he was at the Abu Dhabi Court of Misdemeanours to hear the verdict: the woman, a Ukranian who holds a Lebanese passport, was sentenced to one year in jail and fined Dh10,000 (US$2,723) for posing as a doctor and working without a medical licence.

The hospital was found guilty of knowingly employing her without a licence and of negligence. It was fined Dh100,000. As both the hospital and the woman have 30 days to appeal, their identities cannot be made public. The presiding judge yesterday further recommended the case to the Office of the Attorney General, claiming the director of the hospital had committed a criminal offence in knowingly hiring the woman without a licence.

After the verdict, Dr Aljabiri said he intended to appeal to have the woman's sentence increased to the maximum three years. Legal representatives of the hospital said it would appeal on the grounds it did not know the woman was unlicensed. The director of the hospital at the time of Ola's birth no longer works there; the current director did not comment yesterday. Dr Aljabiri has taken out a civil action for compensation against the hospital at Abu Dhabi's Financial Courts.

The case is continuing. @Email:myoussef@thenational.ae * With additional reporting by Mitya Underwood