Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 17 September 2019

Day surgeries to come under greater scrutiny amid malpractice probe

Day surgeries must hit international standards within 18 months or risk downgrading treatments on offer

Humaid Al Qutami, director general of Dubai Health Authority, reassured patients and medical tourists that Dubai remains a safe place to have medical treatment. Pawan Singh / The National
Humaid Al Qutami, director general of Dubai Health Authority, reassured patients and medical tourists that Dubai remains a safe place to have medical treatment. Pawan Singh / The National

Day surgeries will face tighter regulations and more frequent checks by authorities, after two high-profile claims of negligence were filed in Dubai.

An independent committee is due to make a decision on a surgical procedure carried out on an Emirati woman that resulted in her going into a coma.

Regulators have also opened an investigation into the death of an Indian woman during routine hip replacement surgery at another hospital in Dubai.

Investigators can take up to a year to resolve a negligence case once a complaint is submitted, but fast track serious cases within three months.

Dubai Health Authority defended its safety record on Monday, claiming targets of less than two cases of negligence per 10,000 hospital admissions were in reach.

DHA director general, Humaid Al Qutami, reassured patients and medical tourists that Dubai remains a safe place to have medical treatment, with new regulations improving standards.

“Existing day surgery centres will soon get a circular with the list of approved international accreditations,” he said.

“They have 18 months from the date of the circular to obtain an international accreditation.”

Currently, 97 per cent of the hospitals have international accreditations.

All day surgery centres now wishing to open in Dubai must attain international accreditation to prove a high standard of care within 18 months of opening.

Centres that fail to do so will be downgraded to clinic status.

Dr Marwan Al Mulla, head of health regulation at the DHA, said stringent rules and regulations are already in place to keep health clinics in check, and recent modifications had simplified the complaint process.

“We want to emphasise that the health care sector is huge, and it is growing fast,” he said.

“Patient safety is our top priority, and our safety record supports that.”

Dr Al Mulla said initial investigations into the Emirati woman’s case revealed doctors failed to follow proper procedures.

Patient safety is our top priority, and our safety record supports that

Dr Marwan Al Mulla, Dubai Health Authority

“We feel the pain of the family members,” he said.

“All necessary precautionary measures were promptly taken after initial investigations; we will take stringent action as soon as the investigations are completed.

“Both families have our deepest sympathies at this time, and we are treating these two cases extremely seriously.”

Regulators said Dubai is on target to attract 500,000 medical tourists by 2020, with 337,000 visiting the emirate in 2018.

The majority of medical tourists (33 per cent) visit from the GCC, with most attracted from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.

About 30 per cent of overseas medical visitors are from Asia, with 16 per cent from Europe.

Dubai has a total of 3,371 medical facilities and 38,981 registered health professionals.

Of the registered health facilities, there are 50 licensed day surgeries and 1,212 medical centres.

In 2018, there were 1.8 million outpatient visits to government hospitals, and 7.9 million visits to private facilities.

Doctors at government hospitals performed 33,890 surgical procedures in 2018, with 89,656 operations carried out in private entities.

Updated: May 15, 2019 01:56 PM

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