Hospital ordered to pay RM735,000 over death of retired doctor

KUALA LUMPUR: A retired senior government legal officer was awarded RM735,000 today over the “negligent death” of his wife Dr Suzanne Thomas four years ago.

Judicial commissioner Aliza Sulaiman awarded the amount to Stanley Isaacs after the government admitted liability on April 5.

Aliza awarded RM500,000 in aggravated damages, RM140,000 in general damages and RM95,596.17 in special damages.

In her judgment, she said the government also had to pay interest on the damages from the date the suit was filed until the judgment sum was paid.

She also awarded another RM120,000 in costs.

Thomas, 62, was a former head of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s outpatients department. She was 62 when she died.

She had sought treatment at her former hospital for septic arthritis as diagnosed by a private hospital, but was instead treated for osteoarthritis.

Isaacs, a former head of prosecution in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, filed the suit on May 31, 2016, naming the government, nine doctors and three staff nurses at the hospital as defendants.

He said his wife was admitted to the private medical centre after she was diagnosed with septic arthritis. She later went to the government hospital for treatment.

She was still conscious and able to state her medical history but her condition worsened and she remained critically ill.

“She was found to be semi-conscious on the morning of Dec 21, 2014, after a night of severe headaches and vomiting,” he said in the statement of claim.

She was transferred to the intensive care unit at 8.50pm on Dec 21 where she was intubated and ventilated, but her condition continued to deteriorate and she died on Christmas day.

Isaacs said he and his family were pleased and relieved that the court proceedings had concluded.

“I am grateful to the court for the award of damages even though I did not commence this action against the hospital and the doctors concerned for the money.

“My loss and equally that of my family cannot be compensated with money,” he said in a statement.

Isaacs said he was grateful to the government for not contesting the suit which saved him the pain of proving the liability of the doctors concerned.

“In any event, we had very strong independent and eminent medical opinion to prove the negligence and recklessness of the hospital and, in particular, that of the specialist doctor who assumed responsibility for Suzanne,” he added.

Isaacs said it was greatly troubling that the hospital where she had served for a long time failed to handle her condition with the urgency and action that was required during admission.

“The intention of this action is to send a message to the hospital concerned and to hospitals and doctors generally that every life in their hands deserves their unstinting professionalism,” he added.

Govt admits hospital negligence for death of retired doctor