Private hospital ordered by court to pay RM5.1mil to estate of former Prolintas CEO for negligence

KUALA LUMPUR – The High Court in this city has awarded RM5.1mil to the estate the former chief executive of highway operator Prolintas who died after suffering brain damage following surgery at a specialist private hospital.

Justice Datuk Mohd Arief Emran Arifin’s decision was made after allowing the lawsuit which had been filed by late Datuk Kadir A. Zainudin in 2018. The suit involved a private hospital and defendants including an ENT surgeon, and anaesthetist.

The plaintiff was replaced by his widow Datin Nor Rizam Abdul Wahab. She is the administrator of Zainudin’s estate after his death in 2021.

The judge found that, on the balance of probabilities, the plaintiff proved that all defendants were responsible for medical negligence.

“I also find their failure to act according to the expected levels care caused injury to the deceased. The events that led to damage for the deceased included a premature release of the patient from the postoperative healing process, and several unfortunate incidents which occurred at the ward.

The court awarded Zainudin damages of RM210,000, which he ordered to be paid by both the hospital and two doctors.

The majority of the damages, RM4mil, came from the loss of earnings. As the deceased had been employed, he earned RM65,000 a monthly, and another RM500,000 was for pain and discomfort.

The judge made it clear in his judgment that the court’s role was not to punish doctors or hospitals, but rather to compensate the plaintiff.

He said that the award of damages was an attempt to place the plaintiff on the same footing as monetary compensation.

According to the facts, Zainudin underwent nasal surgery on February 22, 2016.

The surgery started at 5.45pm, and finished at 8.05pm. The records showed that the operation was successful and there were no adverse incidents. Zainudin, however, collapsed around 9.30pm.

Zainudin was discharged from the hospital only 25 minutes after her anaesthesia was reversed. The protocol of the hospital required doctors to observe the patient in the recovery area for at least one hour.

The ENT surgeon, while the patient was still drowsy intubated the patient in the oesophagus and not the trachea. This led to brain injury. The oxygen adapter had also been removed from the VIP ward.

The judge stated, “I find that the defendants were jointly and severally responsible for the events and I cannot place the blame on only the second defendant (ENT Surgeon).”

All defendants have appealed on quantum and liability.