Doctor sentenced to one-year in jail for medical error

In a judgement that has the medical fraternity on tenterhooks, the Court of Misdemeanors in Kuwait has sentenced an obstetrician-gynecologist consultant to one-year imprisonment for causing a medical error that led to a 25 percent disability in his patient, and her inability to conceive anymore.

Lawyer Zayd Al-Khabbaz, representing the patient, said the defendant who was responsible for conducting a normal caesarean operation on his client, committed a serious medical error and, through ignorance or negligence, cut her intestine and also removed her colon.

The lawyer argued that due to a delay in realizing and dealing with this problem, his client ended up with a severe disability, as well as the inability to give birth in the future.

The judge found with the plaintiff and sentenced the doctor to a year in prison.

Doctors and other medical personnel in Kuwait, especially expatriates, are extremely cautious when they take up operations and other major procedures, as any error could lead to extended litigation and probably jail sentences for the concerned doctors. They fear that without adequate protection, Kuwait could soon be headed the way of the United States and other places, where it is estimated that 75 percent of doctors in specialties with a low risk of malpractice and 99 percent of doctors in high-risk practices could be sued at least once during the span of their professional career.