Upon the instructions of Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, the Ministry of Health (MOH) closed down a private hospital in the north of Jeddah following a fatal medical error on a eight-year-old boy during a surgery on Thursday.
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 child's mother gave her consent to doctors to perform 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 surgeons had 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.
An official from the MOH told Arab News that immediate closure of the hospital was enforced following the death of the child and also due to repeated violations since 1430H.
The official said that the ministry concluded that the irregularities practiced in the hospital have rendered it unsafe for patients.
The official said the decision was based on a report from a medical committee comprising consultants in intensive care, surgeons and anesthetists, which studied the case of the deceased child upon receipt of the complaint made by the aggrieved parents. During its inquiry, the committee, which was appointed by the MOH, went into detail of the case by listening to the testimony of medics, paramedics and technicians involved in the case.
According to the observations made by the committee, the hospital will remain closed for two months until the hospital regularizes its medical and technical functions in accordance with set medical standards. Such remedial measures should satisfy the health authorities to ensure that the hospital is safe and secure for treating patients and fit for re-opening.
The committee had also found that the cardiopulmonary resuscitation team at the hospital did not work in a scientific manner in dealing with crisis situations such as this one.
The operating theater was not adequately equipped with personnel and apparatus for anesthesia and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
The committee also noted that the there was a lack of supervision by the management over the functions of the hospital, especially in the maintenance of equipment used for surgery.
The official said that the decision for the closure of the hospital is a clear indication of the MOH's keenness in maintaining high health and safety standards for the patients.
"The ministry will not tolerate any medical blunders on any patient. We will continue to impose penalties and take legal action against any health institution that does not adhere to quality standards required by the ministry of health.”
The ministry also expressed its sincere condolences to the members of the family of the deceased child.
The hospital administration has blamed a technical maintenance company for the fatal error and has filed a complaint to the police department against the company for bungling the medical equipment system.
“The mistake happened inside the x-ray room when the maintenance company mixed up the oxygen and nitrogen inlets. The company carried out its routine maintenance without the knowledge of authorities at the hospital,” the hospital statement said on Thursday.
The hospital offered condolences to the bereaved relatives on behalf of the administration and staff members.
Minister of Health Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah has been personally following the case and has called for an urgent report about the cause of the child’s death. The hospital said it would cooperate fully with MOH officials and that it has handed over the files related to the medical error to the health directorate in Jeddah.