The Trauma Centre at Rashid Hospital where the Briton underwent the life-saving coiling procedure Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Dubai: A British patient who has recovered from a coma, says he is indebted to the public health care system of Dubai after doctors at Rashid Hospital saved his life in the nick of time.

The 44-year-old patient, who works as a senior executive with a logistics company, said he was transferred to Rashid Hospital after alleged negligence at a private hospital.

He said he wished to remain anonymous and would not like to name the private hospital against whom he had filed a medical complaint. "We just want to raise awareness around the excellent care facilities at public hospitals in Dubai and the over-marketing of private hospitals," said his wife.

It all began in early November when the patient started having severe headaches. "We visited the private hospital on November 12 and my husband presented himself with high BP, which runs in the family, but had never been on medication earlier and never complained of severe migraines in the past," said the wife.

"The doctors did some blood tests, performed an ECG, gave him a tablet to reduce blood pressure and he was sent home a few hours later with the request to make an appointment with general medicine," she said.

No sense of urgency

"The next day, he was readmitted still complaining of headache and high blood pressure. After an ECG, some blood tests and a chest scan, he was sent home again with blood pressure tablets. He was told to monitor his pressure three times a day, keep a chart and make a follow-up appointment," said the wife. "Our request to keep him under observation was denied and at no point was a head CT scan suggested."

The patient reportedly went back to work two days later, only to collapse on his office chair on the morning of November 17. "We rushed him to the same private hospital in an ambulance. He was now diagnosed with a massive subarachnoid brain haemorrhage and lung oedema. In order to save his life, we were told that a procedure of coiling or clipping the aneurism in the brain was needed but the hospital had no facilities to do it." The couple said it was bad enough that the problem had not been diagnosed earlier.

"There was no sense of urgency. Now with no possibility of treatment, we felt like we were stranded, with my husband fighting for his life in the ICU," the wife said.

It was at this juncture that the patient was transferred to Rashid Hospital where the coiling procedure was performed.

"We found a weak spot in one of his brain vessels which had ruptured and led to bleeding. But fortunately, we have an interventional radiologist and we addressed the issue," said Dr Mohammad Khalid Chisti, Consultant Neurosurgeon at Rashid Hospital. "Further haemorrhages could have killed the patient," said the doctor, adding that the procedure was timely.

"I was in a coma for 12 days but came out of it thanks to the doctors and nurses at Rashid Hospital," said the patient, who was discharged on December 11.

"It is time for expats in Dubai to be aware of the excellent services offered by state hospitals. On many occasions, they deal with people who don't have private insurance and emergency cases transferred from private hospitals. But they never turn them away."

When contacted, the private hospital said, "The patient did attend the Emergency Department and was assessed in accordance with international guidelines, which did not indicate that he was at risk of developing a subarachnoid haemorrhage.

"When he presented four days after his previous visit, his management was prompt and appropriate, including admission to the Intensive Care Unit for stabilising. Thereafter, all the necessary arrangements were made for the subsequent transfer to a facility where he could receive definitive highly specialised treatment. This case is currently subject to scrutiny and review, and while the review is in process it would be inappropriate to comment any further."