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Father of deaf child loses medical malpractice suit

The High Court has upheld a ruling against the father of a deaf child who is seeking MVR7.1 million (US$460,440) as compensation for causing permanent loss of hearing in his daughter.



The High Court has upheld a ruling against the father of a deaf child who is seeking MVR7.1 million (US$460,440) as compensation over alleged medical malpractice by a regional hospital.

Ahmed Ihusan blamed an injection from a doctor at the Gaaf Dhaal regional hospital in southern Thinadhoo Island for causing permanent loss of hearing in his then-three-year-old daughter, Aishath Iyan, in July 2007.

The doctor administered an antibiotic called gentamicin to reduce swelling on her left hand. A specialist had later determined that the cause of deafness was an overdose of the medicine.

After losing his lawsuit against the health ministry at the civil court in 2009, Ihusan appealed its judgment at the appellate court.

A three-judge panel at the court ruled on Thursday that there was no legal basis to establish that the child lost her hearing due to medical malpractice or negligence.

The court said witness testimony and medical documents do not prove that the doctor administered the medicine in violation of healthcare procedures and rules.

The ruling stated that although loss in hearing has been identified as a side-effects of gentamicin, doctors do not always have to inform the patient’s family as it may hinder treatment plans.

Doctors must only inform patients of side-effects if a medicine is administered at a higher dosage or for a longer than period than recommended under normal procedures, the ruling stated.

The doctor’s failure to inform Ihsan of the side-effects does not therefore amount to medical negligence, the court ruled.

Despite Ihsan contending that the medicine was administered at an unsafe level without considering his daughter’s weight or height, the High Court said it was administered “in accordance with her weight of 14.5 kgs, at 4.1 milligrams per kilo for 3.5 days.”

The dosage did not exceed the amount prescribed by the ‘British National Formulary for Children,’ said a source described as an expert on treatment procedures and standards.

In October 2010, Ihsan called for laws governing medical negligence. Ihusan told The Maldives Independent at the time that his daughter’s treatment “cost me my business and life savings.”

“People should really be aware of faults in the medical system. There should be a way that people can make the doctors stand trial and get their money back,” he said at the time.

Doctors in India had recommended that the only form of treatment was cochlear implantation.

Ihusan said he had spent MVR7,119,100 (US$554,000) on his daughter’s treatment by October 2010.

“I lost my business and all the money I saved,” he said.

“I have been struggling to recover the amount of money I spent for the treatment of my daughter. It was a medical fault – she was taken to hospital to treat a normal fever. The Civil Court ruled that there was no capacity to it to rule that the lost money should be paid by the state.”