x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Reports in euthanasia case should be re-examined, lawyer says

He says two Dubai reports condemning his client, a doctor who allowed a patient to die at Rashid Hospital, should be reviewed by federal university.

DUBAI // The defence lawyer for a doctor on trial for the "mercy killing" of a patient at Rashid Hospital said today that two medical reports submitted by the Dubai Health Authority against his client should be revisited by a federal entity.

The Austrian doctor, EA, 50, former chief of the intensive care unit at Rashid Hospital, was suspended from working in Dubai but has continued practising in an Al Ain hospital. He is one of two doctors on trial at the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance on a charge of premeditated murder.

Prosecutors say that in February 2009, EA allowed a quadriplegic patient, Ghulam Mohammed, to die after shutting down his life-support system. Another doctor, MA, 49, from India, who was the ICU attending physician on the day Mr Mohammed died, is accused of refusing to resuscitate him on instructions from EA.

"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, be revised by the medicine faculty at the Emirates University and be signed by its dean," Ibrahim Al Mulla argued before Judge Fahmy Mounir Fahmy.

Mr Al Mulla added that the university, a federal entity, is higher than the health authority and department in Dubai, so a medical committee from the university should study the incident.

EA was suspended from practising medicine by the Dubai Health Authority, but was later hired by the Abu Dhabi health-services company Seha as head of anaesthesia and intensive care at a hospital in Al Ain, according to online records.

Seha officials said they were looking into the matter. The emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have separate medical licensing procedures; being suspended or struck off in one emirate does not necessarily affect a doctor's status in the other.

The doctors were investigated by a medical committee at the 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 Prosecutor for criminal investigation.

The committee head, Ashraf Mahmood Al Houthy, an Egyptian medical consultant, told prosecutors EA had violated the medical practice code.

"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. "Do Not Resuscitate" protocols are invalid here.

In May, Dubai Health Authority rejected demands by some doctors to allow euthanasia. It said ending a human life was not permissible.

The next hearing will be on September 7.

salamir@thenational.ae