x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Dubai doctor struck off after girl, 11, dies

The Al Wasl practioner is found guilty of negligence after an Emirati girl with arthritis dies a day after not being treated as critical or admitted to an emergency ward.

DUBAI // A doctor has been sacked and banned from practising in the UAE following the death of an 11-year-old Emirati girl. SSM, a female Arab doctor working at Al Wasl Hospital, was found to have been responsible for causing MAA's death in August.

The decision was taken by the complaints department at the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), after two separate investigations. MAA was taken into Al Wasl Hospital with rheumatoid arthritis, but despite complaining of vomiting and high fever was not admitted to the emergency ward, according to the DHA. Her condition deteriorated and she died a day later. A statement issued by the authority said the girl had not been treated as a "critical case".

Qadhi al Murooshid, the director general of the DHA, said the decision would not prevent the girl's family from suing the doctor. The investigation committee examined the girl's medical file and collected testimonials from the staff involved in her treatment. Mr Murooshid said the case was one of several negligence cases investigated over the past year that have resulted in medical staff being stripped of their licences.

The authority has recently streamlined its complaints procedures. It held a workshop on Tuesday to inform public and private sector staff of the changes. Dr Ramadan Ibrahim Mohamed, the director of regulation at the authority, previously said a 2008 federal law clarified the issue of medical negligence and malpractice and gave the authority "a better idea of how to handle complaints". Complaints received by the DHA are divided into service and clinical problems.

Clinical complaints are reviewed by a committee within the authority, then by a separate legal committee to see whether the courts should pursue a criminal or civil case. The DHA's powers extend only to licensing penalties - it cannot take legal action itself. Last year the authority received 51 complaints against the private sector and 18 against public hospitals. In 2008 it investigated 49 against the private and 17 against the public.

Of the 51 last year, eight are still under investigation and another eight have been closed "for reasons such as request of the complainant", according to a DHA statement released yesterday. Of the remaining 35 investigations, 14 found the hospital or staff involved to have been negligent, and one found them guilty of medical malpractice. A further seven were found to be cases of negligence and malpractice together.

The numbers are slightly higher than the official 2008 figures, which showed only four of 49 private cases were malpractice and negligence, compared with seven last year. Of 18 complaints against the public sector, three have already been closed because the complainant did not appear before the investigations committee. One is still under review. About 60 per cent of the remaining cases were either negligent and/or malpractice, or both.

"The health authority views cases of medical negligence stringently, irrespective of whether the case is registered against a private or public hospital," said Mr Murooshid. munderwood@thenational.ae