The directives come after a complaint by an Al Ain resident, Alaa Rawajbi, who alleged that negligence and the denial of treatment to his two-year-old son, Kareem (in picture), resulted in his death in October 2019. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Healthcare facilities must provide emergency medical care to patients regardless of their insurance status and validity, or face the full brunt of the law, the Abu Dhabi Department of Health announced on Wednesday.

“In line with DoH’s policies, healthcare facilities are required to prioritise patient safety and stability, and are strictly prohibited from denying emergency care to patients based on the validity or lack of health insurance cover,” the statement said.

It added that facilities must also coordinate with one another in the case of patient transfers in urgent cases.

“DoH stresses on the importance of coordination between health facilities when transferring patients from one facility to another to ensure that emergency departments are adequately equipped to receive new patients. In the event that vacant beds are unavailable, the healthcare facility in question is required to communicate directly with DoH’s Medical Operations Command Centre for support,” the DoH said.

Facilities found violating these mandates will be held liable and accountable in accordance to UAE laws and regulations, the authority stressed.

The directives come after a complaint by an Al Ain resident, Alaa Rawajbi, who alleged that negligence and the denial of treatment to his two-year-old son, Kareem, resulted in his death in October 2019.

As Gulf News reported last week, Rawajbi has accused two private hospitals in Al Ain of negligence, and has filed a complaint with the DoH that is now under investigation by the Public Prosecution.

According to Rawajbi, Kareem had been suffering from a high fever, and was initially admitted to a private hospital and treated with intravenous antibiotics for four days.

“Kareem’s condition did not improve, and we were referred to another private hospital. But he was discharged without any arrangements made for his transfer,” the 32-year-old father from Jordan said.

Rawajbi himself took Kareem to the second hospital, but the facility allegedly refused to admit him because treatment there was not covered by Kareem’s insurance plan.

“I wasted valuable time trying to convince the hospital administration, and finally rushed him to a public facility. But by then, the blood poisoning had spread, and affected his heart. My son passed away that evening, just a few hours after he was not admitted to a hospital for emergency treatment,” he said.

Abu Dhabi healthcare law clearly states that patients must receive urgent care regardless of their insurance status, as detailed in the 2008 charter on Patient Rights and Responsibilities. Today’s mandate therefore serves as a reminder to healthcare facilities.

The DoH also last month launched a call centre for inpatients, who can reach the DoH Medical Operations Command Centre directly by dialing 8001717. The Centre will receive and act on all emergency requests and complaints.