Hospital ordered to pay $2.1million over teen’s paralysis

Photo: Reuters

GEORGE TOWN - A couple and their 19-year-old daughter, who became paralysed from the neck down after a surgery at a hospital here in 2008, were awarded RM6mil in a countersuit against the hospital.

Kee Jun Hui and her parents were awarded RM6,023,802 (S$2.1 million) in general and special damages by a High Court which ruled in their favour yesterday in their medical negligence suit against Adventist Hospital and Clinic Services and three doctors.

Her parents, however, lost a suit filed by the hospital - brought for unpaid bills for their daughter's treatment - and were ordered to pay the hospital RM2,350,013 and RM20,000 in costs.

The hospital had filed the suit against the couple in March 2012.

In their defence, the couple claimed they were assured by the hospital that the treatment would be free after their daughter was rendered tetraplegic, a paralysis which results in partial or total loss of sensation and control over the use of the limbs and torso, due to the negligence of the hospital and/or its staff during the surgery on June 3, 2008.

In their medical negligence countersuit in 2012, the couple and the girl claimed the surgery to correct her scoliosis (curved spine) was unsuccessful as she was found to be diagnosed with cervical cord infarction (stroke) and tetraplegia due to the negligence of the three doctors who conducted the surgery.

In his ruling yesterday, Judicial Com­missioner Datuk Nordin Hassan said Jun Hui's father should have been informed about the material risk of the surgery to make an informed decision.

"The patient was transferred out of ICU 17 hours after surgery to the normal ward although her condition was unstable.

"It was also assessed that she suffers from incontinence and has to be fully assisted for bathing, eating, drinking and for mobility," he said.

A relative, who declined to be named, said the family planned to take Jun Hui back from the hospital where she was still warded.

"The child was stuck in hospital for so many years because she could not be cared for at home as her parents, who work as a painter and waitress, could not afford home care," he said.