Saudi Gazette report
JEDDAH – The director of Dr. Erfan & Bagedo General Hospital said the Ministry of Health’s decision to shut down the hospital is hasty, arbitrary and unjust.
Dr. Muhammad Erfan said: “Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah refused to have a meeting with me in order to clarify the true picture and that could have contributed to the shutdown.”
He said the hospital was serving about 50,000 patients a month.
Speaking to Al-Watan newspaper, Dr. Erfan said at least seven hospitals in Jeddah refused to receive 280 inpatients in the hospital due to a lack of space.
He said the ministry took the decision to shut down the entire facilities of the hospital “in haste.”
Criticizing the ministry’s decision, he said: “There should have been gradual steps taken in implementing the closure decision.
“The minister did not abide by the governing rules and regulations with regard to the closure of the hospital.”
He added the first step under the regulations was to take penal action against those who committed the medical error.
He said: “What happened was a technical error involving a device that resulted in the death of the boy, Salah Al-Deen Yusuf Jameel.”
He asked whether a responsible doctor would deliberately endanger the life of an innocent boy.
Dr. Erfan denied reports that the boy’s death was caused by wrongly administering nitrogen instead of oxygen during an anesthesia procedure.
“Normally, nitrous oxide is used while giving anesthesia.
“What happened to the child was an accidental error, and we should let investigators discover this fact”
According to Dr. Erfan, the closure caused a lot of trouble to inpatients and their relatives.
He added: “It also caused immense damage to the nearly 2,700 hospital employees.
“The management has ensured the payment of their salaries on time irrespective of the closure.”
He claimed the hospital is one of the premier healthcare centers with advanced facilities and top quality services in Jeddah.
“We serve more than 2,500 men and women patients in addition to numerous accident cases on a daily basis.
“The 50-bed hospital also hosts the largest dialysis center in the city.”
Referring to the financial losses incurred due to the closure, Dr. Erfan said: “Money will come and go but the moral damage is the worst as the hospital has been extending the best possible healthcare services over the past 32 years.”
He said the hospital recently received a certificate for comprehensive quality.
The hospital director claimed the ministry’s decision would harm Saudi society.
Dr. Erfan said the committee that closed the hospital did not take into account the serious health condition of inpatients at the hospital.
He added: “The hospital was asked to transfer the inpatients abruptly without giving us enough time to make alternative arrangements.”
A number of patients said the sudden closure of the hospital inconvenienced them.
Many of them found it very difficult to contact other hospitals because of the non-availability of their medical files.
Ali Ahmad, a Saudi, said a decision to seal off the hospital’s file room denied many inpatients access to their medical files, including lab test reports.
He added: “I was in deep trouble due to the closure as my operation for prostate cancer was due to be conducted on Tuesday.”
A number of patients, including Ali Al-Amri, Haifa Al-Zahrani, Alya Al-Amoudi and Muwaffaq Al-Hakeem, criticized the closure as it meant they could not access their medical files.
They urged the Health Affairs Department in Jeddah to help them.
Legal consultant and head of the lawyers committee at Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry Yasin Khayyat said the minister’s quick decision to shut down the hospital was in compliance with the medical rules and regulations.
He added: “The efficiency in implementing the closure is a positive thing as it would avoid further problems usually caused by the delay in making such decisions.”
He said there was a need to take such stringent action against government hospitals that commit such errors as well.
Meanwhile, sources at the Ministry of Health said at least 400 foreign doctors were practicing in various hospitals in the western region of the Kingdom without proper medical licenses.
The sources said such doctors were responsible for most of the medical errors reported in many of the hospitals.
These doctors are careless about preventing any medical errors, while the owners of the private hospitals and clinics where they work give them protection because their main concern is making profits, the sources said.
The sources pointed out the proposals presented by the health affairs committee at the Shoura Council with regard to introducing a mechanism to record the medical errors of doctors is yet to come into force.
They said this was mainly due to the ministry’s inaction and the attempts of private hospital owners to scupper such moves.