The Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (Imam) views with utmost concern and consternation the improprieties in the case involving a colleague doctor and trainee paediatrician, Dr Hadiza Bawa Garba, in the current UK medico-legal debacle.
A UK jury on 4 November 2015, after 25 hours of deliberation, convicted her of “gross negligence manslaughter” for the avoidable death of a six-year-old Down’s Syndrome child.
And apparently, to restore public confidence in the medical profession, the General Medical Council (GMC) of the UK recently permanently struck Bawa Garba off the medical register.
This gross mismanagement of Bawa Garba’s case has convulsed the medical fraternity globally and thousands have tweeted their support with #IAmHadiza.
The working conditions on that unfortunate day were exceptionally bad, which is not all that uncommon in many hospital scenarios worldwide, Malaysia included.
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Bawa Garba, apart from her own clinical work, had to cover the patient load of two other doctors and a third doctor, her consultant-in-charge, who was away teaching. She was looking after six wards, spanning four floors, covering paediatric patients in two surgical wards and providing clinical consultations to midwives and GP calls. And to complicate clinical decision-making, the hospital IT system had broken down.
If this is not hospital chaos and a clinical disaster waiting to happen, we are not sure what is!
A 14-person investigation team into this serious untoward incident did not identify any single root cause for the death. The report highlighted 23 recommendations and 79 remedial actions to be immediately undertaken by the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Bawa Garba – who has an unblemished clinical record, had done work for various charitable causes and had just returned from 13 months maternity leave – has been made the scapegoat of the endemic failures of the UK National Health Service to ensure patient safety as one of the pivotal goals of the healthcare industry.
Doctors in the UK have raised more than £275,000 to cover her legal expenses. And 1,500 Australian and New Zealand doctors have petitioned in an open letter which describes the case as “gross injustice (was) an understatement”.
The Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (Imam) urges:
- all Malaysian doctors to demonstrate our solidarity for Bawa Garba by mainstreaming her appeal and innocence in social media and tweeting #IAmHadiza
- colleagues to contribute generously towards the cost of funding for her expert legal counsel
- all hospital authorities in Malaysia to ensure that the clinical ambience is optimal to protect patient safety
- the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to take full cognisance of the mishandling of the case by the GMC and its potential ramifications upon our local doctors working within a highly stressed healthcare system.
Dr Jeffrey Abu Hassan is president of the Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (Imam).