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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Three doctors on trial after boy fell into coma

The boy was admitted to hospital after suffering constant headaches

Three doctors are on trial for negligence and malpractice after a boy fell into a coma after his admittance to Dubai Hospital in July 2014.

Dubai Court of Misdemeanours heard a Syrian paediatrician, 38, a British paediatric oncologist, 49, and an Iraqi general practitioner, 45, failed to give the 11-year-old the proper medical care.

“The three committed a massive medical error and failed to give proper medical care,” prosecutors said.

“Due to their negligence and violation of recognised professional and medical standards, the child’s condition deteriorated and he fell into a coma until this date, according to a medical report issued by Dubai Health Authority.”

The Palestinian boy was admitted to hospital after suffering from headaches. The hospital’s paediatrician ordered tests and said they showed high inflammation.

“She interpreted it as meningitis and ordered the child to be admitted to isolation at the hospital’s fourth floor,” said the father, 56.

After taking medication prescribed by another doctor, the boy had cramps and screamed in pain.

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“After 15 hours, the child was admitted to the intensive care unit, where not one doctor passed by to check on him, and his condition deteriorated rapidly until a doctor from Latifa Hospital arrived the next morning to see him and ordered to have him put on a ventilator,” said the father.

He said his son’s heart rate accelerated and he had high pressure on the brain. The nurses called for doctors and the father said he ran looking for a doctor but could not find anyone.

“I returned, but my son’s heart had stopped,” he said. “Anaesthesia consultants arrived and resuscitated him. When paediatricians returned later, I asked them where they had been and how it was possible that not one doctor was available for an emergency.”

He said he learnt a week later seven consultants had been on leave. He filed complaints with the hospital, Dubai Health Authority and Dubai Public Prosecution.

The British oncologist told prosecutors he visited the child in the isolation room.

“His mother told me he was improving and his headaches began to lessen, so I ordered the nurses to continue the same medication and then left,” he said.

He said he was not involved in the treatment of the child and was just making rounds because of a doctor shortage.

The Syrian paediatrician said she had acted according to hospital’s policy.

“The child had been suffering from meningitis from a long time, which is a fatal condition,” she said.

The Iraqi doctor remains at large.

If convicted, the doctors could face up to two years in prison, said Emirati lawyer, Awatif Mohammed from Al Rowad Advocates.

“As per article 34 from the federal law 4/2016, whoever proved to have committed a gross medical error, shall be punished with imprisonment not more than one year and a fine of not more than Dh200,000,” she said.

If a medical error causes a person’s death, the penalty shall be not more than two years and / or a fine of not more than Dh500,000, Ms Awatif said.

The next hearing is scheduled for Sunday.