Dubai's health regulator has launched an urgent investigation after a young Emirati woman fell into a coma during a routine nose surgery.
The patient, 24, is understood to have suffered significant brain damage after medics at First Med Day Surgery Centre Dubai failed to spot a rapid and sustained drop in blood pressure.
Officials from Dubai Health Authority said an initial investigation had revealed malpractice by both the surgeon, identified by the initials SH, and anaesthetist, SE.
In a statement on Thursday, it said the centre in Muraqqabat in Deira has been ordered to stop conducting any surgeries until the investigation was complete.
The two doctors were also ordered to stop practising medicine, with authorities saying legal action would be taken against anyone who risks the lives of patients.
One of the doctors involved in the botched operation was detained by authorities trying to leave the UAE, according to Arabic language media.
Dr Marwan Al Mulla, chief executive of the DHA’s regulation department, said the organisation had begun legal proceedings against the medics.
The authority’s preliminary investigation revealed that the Emirati woman attended elected nose surgery the centre to correct a deviated septum - a routine surgery that typically lasts two hours.
“The patient suffered from a severe drop in blood circulation and blood pressure. Oxygen also stopped reaching her brain, which caused her heart to stop for several minutes and put her into a deep coma - which she is yet to wake up from,” the statement read.
DHA said the woman’s medical files and history showed she did not suffer from cardiovascular or vascular diseases prior to her surgery.
Its investigation revealed medical negligence in the management of the case by both physicians. It said the doctors did not follow correct medical procedures for surgical intervention prior to the surgery, such as conducting a thorough medical examination before the surgery by a sufficient period.
It also found that the patient’s clinical case was not accurately documented by the anaesthesiologist in her records of the surgery. The files did not include records of the patient’s vital signs while the patient’s oxygen levels dropped and her heart stopped.
The anaesthesiologist also did not record the time he gave the patient the anaesthesia or what her vital signs were prior to administering the drug.
DHA said this created problems for doctors once the patient began to deteriorate during surgery.
The patient’s aunt told the Arabic news outlet Barq that the family became concerned when medics provided no word on how the operation had gone after five hours.
The patient's medical records were also not available when she was transferred from the centre to Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, where she has remained in a coma for 16 days.
Staff at First Med Day Surgery Centre said they could not discuss the case and are awaiting further notice from the authorities.
General anaesthetic complications rare
Although safe in most cases, some patients with existing medical conditions are at risk of suffering complications during general anaesthetic in surgery.
Patients placed under GA are done so in a closely controlled medical environment to allow surgeons to operate on a patient without pain.
Risk increases if a patient suffers from seizures, has existing heart, kidney or lung conditions, high blood pressure or a history of adverse reactions to anaesthetic.
Smokers and heavy drinkers can be more likely to suffer complications.
Common side effects can be dizziness or nausea, difficulty passing urine, shivering or feeling cold, temporary confusion and memory loss.
In extreme cases where anaesthetic is administered incorrectly, the patient may experience awareness during surgery.
The surgery itself typically carries more risk than general anaesthetic, which is considered an aspect of everyday hospital procedure.