Medical error blamed for death of 8-year-old boy



ARAB NEWS

Published — Sunday 18 November 2012

Last update 18 November 2012 8:44 pm

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JEDDAH: A health official accused a leading private hospital in Jeddah for colluding with a doctor involved in a fatal medical error.
“The Directorate of Health issued a memo to the private hospital administration requesting them not to allow the expatriate doctor, involved in the child’s death, to flee the country. The memo also made it clear that any other hospital staff involved in the medical error should also be present in the country for interrogations. Any one who conceals facts from the directorate will be punished,” Assistant Director of Health Affairs in Jeddah, Dr. Turki Al-Sharif said.
Salah Al-Deen, son of a leading businessman, Sheikh Yusuf Jameel, died due to a medical error at Dr. Erfan & Bagdeo Hospital in Jeddah on Thursday. The eight-year old boy was taken to the hospital for a checkup, after he developed symptoms of swollen lymphatic glands, following a two-week-long bout of fever.
The mother gave her consent to the doctors, to do the necessary surgery, after she was reassured that it was a simple operation that would only last for 30 minutes. However, the doctors, reportedly, operated upon the boy in an x-ray lab that was not equipped for surgical operations. In the course of anesthesia, the boy was administered nitrogen instead of oxygen. By the time the surgeons discovered the mistake, the circulatory system had been completely damaged. The situation was further exacerbated because the x-ray room was not equipped for emergency cardiac resuscitation. The hospital offered condolences to the bereaved relatives on behalf of the administration and staff members.
The hospital administration, blamed a technical maintenance company for the fatal error, and filed a complaint to the police department against the company, for bungling the medical equipment system.
Al-Sharif however, pointed out, the improper conduct of the hospital administration, after committing a serious medical error. “The hospital administration demonstrated contradictory behavior when they helped the expatriate doctor, suspected to be involved in the fatal medical error, to flee the country, and yet blamed the maintenance company for the death of the child,” Al-Sharif said in a statement to Al-Madinah newspaper.
“The mistake happened inside the x-ray room, when the maintenance company mixed up the oxygen and nitrogen inlets. The company carried out the routine maintenance, without the knowledge of the concerned authorities in the hospital,” the hospital statement said on Thursday.
Al-Shareef said the fault still lies within the hospital administration for appointing unreliable employees.
He said a technical committee is investigating the damage done to the child’s respiratory system caused by the nitrogen supplied by mistake at the time of the surgery. Another engineering committee is investigating the medical equipment used in the hospital.
Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah has been personally following the case and has asked for an urgent report about the cause of the child’s death. The hospital said it is cooperating fully with the officials and that it handed over all the files related to the medical error to the health directorate.
It also demanded the directorate to pass the case to the Shariah Court, to prosecute the people responsible for the child’s death, including the maintenance company.
The hospital also stated that the Ministry of Health had granted them, five months ago, a quality certificate after they scored 95 percent and 87 percent on the ministry’s evaluation.

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