x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Nurses deny knowledge of 'do not resuscitate' order in patient's death

Two doctors are accused of allowing a quadriplegic patient to die at Rashid Hospital.

DUBAI // Two nurses testified today that they knew of no "do not resuscitate order" issued by the former intensive-care unit chief at Rashid Hospital, who has been accused with another doctor of killing a quadriplegic patient.

EA, Austrian, is one of two doctors charged with the premeditated murder of Ghulam Mohammed in February 2009. They left him to die after shutting down his life-support system, refusing to revive him after a heart attack and instructing other medical staff not to do so, prosecutors say.

They denied the charges. The Indian doctor MA, 49, who was the intensive-care unit's attending physician on the day Mr Mohammed died, is accused of refusing to resuscitate him on instructions from EA.

"No, I did not issue a DNR order," the Austrian doctor, EA, 50, said.

However, Rashid Hospital's intensive-care unit consultant, Ashraf Mahmood Al Houthy, an Egyptian, told the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance today that there was a DNR order for Mr Mohammed issued by EA.

"I don't imagine any doctor would have the intention to kill a patient," Dr Al Houthy, 51, testified.

Dr Al Houthy was the head of a medical committee formed by Rashid Hospital to internally investigate the the incident.

A 40-year-old nurse told Judge Fahmy Mounir Fahmy that he did not receive any DNR orders from EA, but said that when MR Mohammed's condition deteriorated, MA refused to resuscitate him.

"Between 3:20 and 3:52 that day, MA did not do anything to resuscitate the patient, who then died," the nurse said.

Another nurse said she was not present on the day Mr Mohammed died, but had attending to him before his death. She said that he had already suffered six strokes, but that she did not know of any DNR orders from EA.

EA's lawyer had earlier asked that the two medical reports submitted by the Dubai Health Authority be examined by a federal entity.

"Your honour, federal laws are higher than local ones. Therefore, I kindly request that the two medical reports submitted in this case, which should be dealt with as a medical error, not murder, be revised by the medicine faculty at Emirates University and be signed by its dean," Ibrahim Al Mulla said.

The two doctors were investigated by a medical committee at Rashid Hospital, which found them liable. The committee deemed their actions illegitimate and in violation of Dubai Health Authority regulations, and referred them to the Dubai Public Prosecution for criminal investigation.

Dr Al Houthy told prosecutors EA had violated professional responsibility.

"The orders issued verbally and backed up by written instruction violated the medical practice code followed in Dubai, as the patient was conscious and not clinically dead," he said.

Euthanasia is illegal under UAE federal law, and doctors are required to revive patients regardless of the patients' wishes; DNR protocols are invalid here.

In May, the Dubai Health Authority rejected a request from several doctors to allow euthanasia. The ruling said ending a human life was not permissible.

The next hearing will be on October 16.

salamir@thenational.ae