x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Hospitals questioned over deaths

Two children who died after being treated for suspected food poisoning and released from hospital may have been discharged too soon.

DUBAI // Two children who died after being treated for suspected food poisoning and released from hospital may have been discharged too soon, the head of the Dubai Health Authority said last night, while also suggesting there may have been negligence in their care. In his first public comments on the matter in two weeks, Qadhi Saeed al Murooshid, the DHA director general, said the authority was holding investigations, speaking with paediatricians and child specialists as well as holding regular meetings with the administrations of both hospitals involved: the Dubai Hospital and the New Medical Centre Speciality Hospital. The authority oversees the hospitals where Nathan, five, and Chelsea D'Souza, seven, were treated.

"Unfortunately, there have been mistakes and contradictions and misunderstandings, and we are investigating with the hospital that dealt with the case ... it is hard proving that food poisoning was the cause of death, but it is also clear that the cases should have been under careful watch for at least three hours and that perhaps they were released too soon," Mr al Murooshid said in an interview on Thil el Kalam, on Dubai Television.

He said the authority was dealing with a serious problem with multiple facets. "The main problem is there is carelessness and negligence and perhaps this is a case of medical malpractice, but we cannot say as we are still investigating." Mr al Murooshid said the possible negligence stemmed from the fact that the administration of the private hospital should have immediately been alerted to the seriousness of the case, considering that there were three cases of food poisoning ? Nathan, Chelsea and their mother, Ana-Sophia.

"Sometimes food poisoning is a straightforward case with acute gastroenteritis or something like that, but sometimes there might be an underlying seriousness, and the rules are clear: any case of food poisoning has to be reported to the right authorities immediately." Chelsea, Nathan, Ana-Sophia and the family's housemaid became ill on the evening of June 12 after eating a Chinese takeaway meal. * With additional reporting by Praveen Menon

hkhalaf@thenational.ae