When Doctors Forget Scissors in Patients’ Abdomens [Archives:2001/37/Reportage]

September 10 2001

Farook Al-Kamali
Yemen Times
The fatal mistakes of the Yemeni surgeons make us laugh and cry. The doctors turned out to be the death messengers instead of being the saviors. They had to get rid of merciful feelings to treat people as animals but even animals should also be treated well. Visiting the public hospitals around the country gives you an opportunity to see what is going on.
How can a doctor be satisfied when he dares to forget his scissors inside the abdomen of the suffering patient who hurried to the hospital to be cured but finding instead more suffering. The other victim was only suffering from appendicitis but woke up from the surgery its intestines missing.
Some surgeons might even by mistake amputate the patients leg or hand or any part of his limps.
Such serious mistakes are committed daily in both public and private hospitals scattered in the country. As a result, the helpless citizens found no other way but to turn to jugglers who claim to know about the herbal medicine and the the rapeutical effects of reading specific verses of the holy Qura’an to cure the patients..
During the last decade, such popular medicine has widely spread all over the country.
Wagedah Abdullwahab, a 18 years old girl and a student at the secondary school in Taiz, was only suffering from appendicitis. Doctors of the Military Hospital decided to carry out a surgery to remove her appendicitis which was causing her pain, but the surgery turned to a tragedy. The unskilled doctor removed a part of the girl’s intestines but forgot to treat her appendicitis. Wagedah’s parents never thought that the surgery would cause their daughter more pain instead of seeing a smile once again to that beautiful face.
Wagedah’s pain increased and her family took her from one hospital to the other and spent a lot of money to cure her but all their efforts remained idle. Finally, they took her to a German medical team visiting Taiz who believed that the patient should be transferred to the Military hospital in Sana’a. There, the doctors were surprised to find the appendicitis still present after the operation while the cutting of the so-called surgeon was far away from the localization of pain. Instead of treating Wagedah, he had worsened her situation.
Last January, the German doctors opened Wagedah’s abdomen and removed the appendicitis which caused her pain before the surgical operation. He also tried to heal the patient’s intestines, but the pain went on. The surgeries performed on her in February and March were still unsuccessful and the poor girl did not go back to school after having encountered the so-called doctors and hospitals.
The little child Ra’ad Mohammed Kasem was admitted to the hospital due to fever. The doctors thought that he should be kept in the hospital to be monitored. But instead of treating his fever, they amputated toes of his right leg after a couple of months of hospitalization.
The shy baby Randa Mansour Al-kamaly lost her left hand as she was amputated by one of the unskilled doctors at the Yemeni Saudi Hospital in Hajah governorate.
Aeshah Ahmed Abdu, 10 years old, was hospitalized in one of the private medical institutions in Taiz governorate in 1999. She was only suffering from clubfoot on her right leg as it was then shorter than the left foot. The incompetent surgeons performed an operation thought to remove this stigma but, instead, the leg turned 7cm shorter than the left. So she was kept at home not moving at all. After being checked by one of the Egyptian specialists in bones surgery, she was found suffering from insufficient calcium and no surgical operation should have been conducted.
Dr. Abdullwahab Alghorbani, General Manager of the Medical Affairs Office in Taiz, talked about the mistakes made by the doctors and the legal procedures to be adopted in such cases as following:
If we are sure that one of the doctors has committed a medical error because of ignorance and because of being careless, we are sending him to the public prosecution. Dr. Abdulwahab believes that, “Most of the mistakes committed by doctors and other medical staff are no more than technical errors during surgeries. Some come from carelessness, while a few are deliberately committed. Though I do not believe that a doctor will commit a mistake deliberately.”
He also told us that, “Concerning Wagedah’s and Ra’ad’s cases, we have already formed a committee to study the mistakes which resulted in their tragedies and to send reports on this regard to the Public Health Ministry.”He added, “We are proud to form the first medical committee in Taiz which include doctors of all specializations to bear the responsibility of determining the kind of medical mistakes committed by the doctors. We consider this a victory achieved by Taiz governorate as it is the first initiative of its kind.”The Chairman of the Doctors and Pharmacists Syndicate, Dr. Sultan Al.Doba’aee, believes that the increase of these kinds of mistakes is due to the widespread presence of private hospitals which lack the minimum medical equipment and sufficient qualifications of Yemeni cadres in the medical sector as well as in the other sectors. Most of these private medical units and hospitals are practicing without having being granted the proper licenses. Some of the licenses were even granted to businessmen and Sheikhs who had no knowledge of medicine.
To avoid in the future further medical mistakes, the question of corruption which is plaguing the society, the medical sector included, must be brought up. We are hoping that the incompetent and careless doctors would be questioned by the authorities. The files of the doctors registered at the public health ministry and those exercising their work in private should also be scrutinized to make sure of their scientific qualifications and medical competence.