Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 19 January 2020

Father takes legal action against hospitals after son, 2, dies from 'negligence'

Alaa Rawajbi claims doctors should not have sent him to another clinic where his insurance was invalid and which refused to treat his son

Kareem Al Rawajbi, 2, died from severe sepsis that stopped the muscles in his heart from working. Courtesy Alaa Rawajbi
Kareem Al Rawajbi, 2, died from severe sepsis that stopped the muscles in his heart from working. Courtesy Alaa Rawajbi

A father has reported two hospitals to Abu Dhabi's medical regulator claiming doctors' negligence led to the death of his two-year-old son.

Alaa Rawajbi’s son Kareem fell ill in October with what he believed was seasonal flu.

It was later diagnosed as sepsis - which kills an estimated six million people each year, two-thirds of them children.

Abu Dhabi's health authority confirmed it investigated the death but would not comment further. The father lodged a separate legal case against one of the hospitals in Al Ain court. Neither facility has been publicly named.

“I thought, like any boy, he got sick and had fever. It was flu season after all,” said Mr Rawajbi, a 35-year-old engineer from Jordan.

As a precaution, he took Kareem to a private hospital in Al Ain that he knew was covered by their health insurance.

When Kareem’s health was not improving, they should have changed the antibiotic and kept monitoring his case, not discharge him without a proper transfer when he was in that state

Alaa Rawajbi

“The specialised doctor said he was suffering from bacteria in the blood which is causing the fever so they gave him anti-fever medicine and antibiotics.”

Kareem was admitted to the hospital, where he stayed for five days until his condition worsened.

“He starting throwing up and could not move his body.

“His face turned yellow and he was completely rejecting food.”

The boy’s doctor recommended he see another specialist at a different private hospital and wrote him a transfer letter.

“My son was vomiting and very tired. I was reluctant to take him but the doctor said he spoke to them and it is best to transfer him.”

Mr Rawajbi said an ambulance was not called and he had to take Kareem to the other hospital himself.

He was then told his insurance was not accepted there.

After paying a Dh500 consultation fee, Mr Rawajbi was allowed to see the doctor.

“He told me he knew of my son’s case from the other doctor and that Kareem would need to sleep in the hospital for more tests.”

But doctors refused to admit Kareem until his father paid Dh10,000 to cover the cost of his stay and the additional tests.

“I told them 'I have Dh2,000 on me now, start treating the boy until I fetch the rest of the amount'.

“My son was already in a hospital covered by the insurance and that doctor told us to move him.”

He said the first hospital should have organised an emergency transfer for his son to ensure he would be seen immediately.

Mr Al Rawajbi, who also has a seven-month-old boy, said he had no choice but to take his son to a government hospital.

“My insurance did not cover the public hospital either but there they treat first then ask for the payment.”

The boy was admitted into a paediatrics clinic, where a doctor told him his son had sepsis that had reached his heart which had begun to fail.

“Two hours later, [on October 13] my son died.”

Mr Al Rawajbi and his wife allege that doctors are to blame.

“When Kareem’s health was not improving, they should have changed the antibiotic and kept monitoring his case, not discharge him without a proper transfer when he was in that state," he said.

He said his son did not have any prior medical issues.

Updated: December 8, 2019 01:52 PM

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