MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Malaysian Federal Court Rules Private Hospital As Jointly Liable For Negligence

columbiaasia negligence

Columbia Asia Hospital was held jointly liable with an anaesthetist to pay an estimated RM4 million in damages to a former patient who had brain damage.

The federal court held a private hospital, Columbia Asia Hosptial, for medical negligence. This is regarding a case involving a patient who suffered from brain damage in 2010. The Federal Court ruled in a split ruling of 4-1,

The Federal Court Ruling

They ruled that Columbia Asia and an anaesthetist were jointly liable to RM4 million in damages to Mr Siow Ying Chee. His wife was also awarded RM100,000 in costs. The federal court stated that the primary healthcare provider remained responsible for providing premises and facilities for the treatment and care of patients. This is regardless of how and to whom the responsibility was delegated.

The Backstory

Mr Siow had undergone a tonsillectomy, palatal stiffening, and endoscopic sinus surgery at Subang Jaya Medical Centre on March 10, 2010. He then experienced bleeding in his throat 12 days after the procedure while he was at home. Subsequently, he went to Columbia Asia Puchong to seek treatment.

He was then placed under general anaesthesia, but there was a delay of 25 minutes in securing his airway. Life-saving procedures were not carried out, and Mr Siow was not breathing for this duration of time. When intubation was finally done, resuscitation measures were not adequately carried out, causing Mr Siow to suffer from brain damage. 

The High Court found the anaesthetist liable in 2020 and ordered that she pay RM1.9 million in damages. The claim against the hospital was dismissed. Mr Siow’s appeal to the Court of Appeal increased the damages against the anaesthetist to RM3.3 million. His appeal for liability to be imposed on the hospital was dismissed by the Court of Appeal, leading to his current appeal.

Brain Injuries from Medical Negligence

Brain injuries or brain damage due to medical negligence can occur when a healthcare professional fails to provide an adequate standard of care. This could lead to an injury or damage to the patient’s brain.

These injuries or damage can lead to significant physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments. These include memory loss, speech and language issues, motor problems, neurological deficits, and premature death.

Brain injuries due to medical negligence have various implications for patients. It also impacts their family members, who often act as their full-time caregivers. Many families do not have the financial means to provide the type of expensive care that such patients require. Additionally it would have a significant impact on the caregiver’s quality of life.

Conclusion

Private hospitals and medical practitioners must work hand-in-hand to ensure service and care meet the expected standards.  Proactive measures to ensure the availability and proper maintenance of necessary equipment and manpower are vital to prevent unfortunate circumstances that can be avoided.

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