Father blames medical negligence after fever treatment leaves daughter deaf

The father of seven year-old Aishath Iyan claims his daughter lost her hearing after she was prescribed an overdose of antibiotics for a fever at Thinadhoo Regional Hospital in Gaafu Dhaalu Atoll.

Ahmed Ihsan is demanding law makers institute laws governing medical negligence, currently lacking in the Maldives, after remedial treatment for his daughter “cost me my business and life savings.”

“On July 14 in 2007 I went to Thinadhoo Regional Hospital to get treatment for my three year-old daughter, on advice from my island’s health centre. She was in the centre for three days with a fever and the doctors observed that her left hand was swelling, and recommended Thinadhoo Hospital,” said Ihsan.

“As soon as we reached the hospital, the doctor said I had to admit my daughter immediately.”

The doctor first administered an injection medicine to try and reduce the swelling, however it did not work. The doctor then said Aishath would have to undergo a hand operation.

“The same day the doctor prescribed two dose of 80 milligrams of Gentamicin (an antibiotic used to treat many types of bacterial infections) and the same evening another two 80 milligram doses of Gentamicin, and a fifth 80 milligram dose the next day,” Ihsan said. “The hospital operated on her three times, and discovered no internal infection.”

Gentamicin is a vestibulotoxin, and can cause permanent loss of equilibrioception, caused by damage to the vestibular apparatus of the inner ear, usually if taken at high doses or for prolonged periods of time.

Ihsan said he had no clue that his then-three year-old daughter was counting her last days that she would ever hear her father’s voice in her life.

“It was July 19 2007, and she asked me what was plugged into her ears. She said she could not hear anything,” Ihsan said. “So the doctor cleaned her ear, but unfortunately it did not do her ears any good, and the condition was same.”

Ihsan said he then took his daughter to Male’ to visit an ear, nose and throat specialist to try and determine the cause of her deafness.

“He advised me to go abroad as soon as possible, so I went to India. The doctors there said her hearing was lost permanently and recommended the only treatment which was ‘Choclear Implantation’,” he said. “I came back to Maldives and asked the ENT specialist to examine the case and to determine the cause.”

The specialist then examined the case very thoroughly and said the cause of her deafness was an overdose of Genamicin, Ihsan said.

“The doctor said Gentamicin should be given only after measuing the weight of the person, and the doctor at Thinadhoo hospital did not check my daughter’s weight or height,” he claimed.

He said he had spent Rf 7,119,100 (US$554,000) on his daughter’s treatment so far.

“I lost my business and all the money I saved,” he said.

“I have been struggling to recover the amount of money I spent for the treatment of my daughter. It was a medical fault – she was taken to hospital to treat a normal fever,” Ihsan explained. “The Civil Court ruled that there was no capacity to it to rule that the lost money should be paid by the state.”

“People should really be aware of faults in the medical system. There should be a way that people can make the doctors stand trial and get their money back,” Ihsan said, adding that he was by no means an isolated case.

Ihsan explained that many of the people have suffered in similar situations like him and said there was no way to get their return.