What to do when: Doctor trouble in Dubai

For more than two years, she walked around with a lump on her gum.

An excruciating pain, which resulted in frequent visits to the dentist and truly infringed on her personal life, is how Zeenat Adil Fakih describes it.

When it became clear that the lump had come to exist because of medical negligence, for which the dentist was unwilling to take responsibility, her agony got bitter. When she was asked to pay for the corrective treatment, Zeenat was furious.

“Around two years ago, I underwent a root canal procedure with a reputed dentist in Dubai.

“Since the procedure took multiple sittings, despite my protests and concerns, the doctor compelled me to close the root canal stating that the clinic did not permit him to take such a long time.

“He kept assuring me that the infection will subside and heal itself over a brief period of time.”

However, the pain did not subside. Instead, it got worse over time, she says.

Desperate to ease the pain, Zeenat went back to the dentist, who did not recognise the medical mistakes made.

The dentist suggested it could be a result of a sinus infection, and when this was ruled out, he suggested a lack of vitamin D to be the cause.

Zeenat was sent back and forth between several doctors, without finding the cause of the lump, she says.

Finally, the dentist ordered an X-ray, which showed that the root canal treatment had failed, and the procedure had to be re-done.

“The dentist tried to absolve himself of all liability from the pain and suffering he made me undergo for well over two years.”
Health Regulation Department

In cases like these, patients are encouraged to lodge a complaint with the Health Regulation Department (HRD) of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA).

Only then can legal action be taken, if the complaint is accepted and found legitimate.

Medical malpractice is described by the department as an error occurring due to unfamiliarity of the practitioner with the technical aspects which each practitioner is expected to be familiar with, due to negligence or paying insufficient efforts.

This concerns only complaints related to a health service or its quality.

Complaints of a financial nature or attitude of a healthcare professional are not accepted by the HRD.

When the complaint is accepted, a committee will study the case and if it is deemed legitimate, the DHA will take action.

Depending on the severity of the malpractice, the practitioner may be fined, or his/her license may be revoked.

A medical complaint can be made by a patient affected by the actions or decisions of a healthcare provider, or by someone acting on behalf of the patient or person, with their consent, explains the HRD.

The medical practitioner, in his/her turn, can make an appeal within 30 days of the disciplinary action.

A case can be deemed invalid if the treatment resulted in a known side-effect or complication, the damage was sustained due to action of the patient, or if the method followed was different than commonly used but nevertheless consistent with the recognised medical principles.

Although this might result in justice, it will not solve the financial burden patients are facing for the recovery of the mistake.

I contacted the clinic repeatedly for my free re-root canal.

“Although they are not denying the liability, they refuse a free re-root canal and are offering me a mere 20 per cent discount on the root canal, while I have already paid the clinic approx. Dh1,600 for the former root canal. I feel cheated to have to pay the same, despite the clinic’s fault being clearly established,” said Zeenat.

To lodge a medical complaint, a form in addition to a typed and signed complaint letter explaining specifically what the medical complaint is about should be sent to cg@dha.gov.ae.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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