x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Brain surgeons cleared of negligence in operation

The Dubai Health Authority has reported there was no evidence of negligence by doctors who removed part of a women's skull during brain surgery.

DUBAI // An investigation into a complaint that doctors wrongly removed part of a woman's skull during a brain operation last year has found no evidence of negligence or malpractice. Instead, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), which investigated the incident at the Neuro Spinal Hospital, yesterday reported the procedure had been required because of an "unfortunate complication".

The family of Maitha Obaid al Baloushi, 24, made a public complaint on a Dubai-based Arabic radio station in March about a procedure done last year, and later filed an official complaint. During the operation - a minimally invasive procedure known as an endovascular coiling technique - complications arose that caused swelling and pressure on the brain. The hospital defended itself at the time, telling a press conference in March how the swelling had induced a stroke, making it necessary to perform a craniotomy - remove the section of skull - to save the patient's life.

When the piece was replaced, it left Ms al Baloushi's head slightly mis-shapen. In January her family moved her to the International Neuroscience Institute in Hanover, Germany, where she was fitted with an acrylic substitute and given rehabilitation. A statement from the DHA yesterday said there had been "neither negligence nor malpractice" and the treatment given was not "below standard". Ms al Baloushi originally suffered a haemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm. This causes bleeding that can lead to brain damage or even death. She was treated at Tawam Hospital in Al Ain and Sheikh Khalifa Medical City in Abu Dhabi before being moved to the Neuro Spinal Hospital in Dubai.

The hospital's medical director Dr Abdul Karim Msaddi, who is also a neurosurgeon, said he was pleased with the report's conclusion but warned that such public complaints could make doctors reluctant to do this type of surgery. "These are high-risk cases and there are often complications. The worry is that public cases like this one may put doctors off doing these types of high risk surgery. If we don't do them, who will?"

The investigating committee consisted of DHA neurosurgeons and neurologists, as well as members of the legal department, the DHA statement said. It had reviewed all of the patient's medical records, including those from Germany, and had interviewed the treating doctors and director of the Dubai hospital as well as Ms al Baloushi's brother. @Email:munderwood@thenational.ae