Gas explosion woman raps hospital staff |
Gulf Daily News - 10 May, 2012
A woman injured in a gas cylinder explosion outside her home last month has launched a scathing attack on the treatment she received at the hands of healthcare staff at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC). Rania Abdulqadir Zain Al Abedeen claims she was mistreated, misdiagnosed and ignored by doctors at Bahrain's biggest public hospital, which was occupied by anti-government protesters during the height of unrest last year.
In an exclusive interview with the GDN's sister newspaper Akhbar Al Khaleej, she said an ambulance called to her house in Bilad Al Qadeem never arrived and accused hospital staff of trying to distort facts surrounding the incident.
The 35-year-old mother-of-three alleged they tried to cover up the explosion in medical reports, saying they wanted to blame the explosion on a gas leak in her kitchen.
"I received the worst treatment from the doctors at SMC, but I was even more surprised when I overheard two doctors speaking about my course of treatment," she said.
"One of them said that he would report the incident as a gas cylinder explosion during cooking resulting from a gas leak.
"I told them that wasn't the case, but they made me sign medical reports without knowing the contents because I couldn't see due to an eye injury."
She said she was not provided a wheelchair upon arrival at the Accident and Emergency Department, but was instead forced to walk despite her injuries.
Her son, Abdulla Nabeel Qadhem, also suffered facial and neck injuries after the blast shattered a glass door and blew in its frame - showering them both with glass shards.
Ms Zain Al Abedeen recalled the moment she first realised something was wrong on the night of the explosion April 23.
"When we heard a commotion outside Abdulla's room I tried to calm him, but when I looked out of the window I saw around 10 to 15 youngsters placing tyres in front of my house and I quickly took a picture of them with my mobile phone," she said
"But when I put the phone down I saw policemen running towards the burning tyres and then I noticed the youths were about to set fire to a gas cylinder.
"The next thing I knew I heard an explosion and was lying on the floor, I couldn't move because of the pain and my face was covered in blood. All I could hear was my son's cries and him yelling: 'Mama, don't die and leave me'."
Ms Zain Al Abedeen described how she dragged herself to the ground floor of her house and told her daughters, aged seven and four, not to leave their room.
She then asked the family's driver to take her and her son to hospital, but they were stopped by police who called an ambulance - but she said it never came.
However, she added their ordeal continued when they finally reached SMC, where she accused staff of having a sectarian agenda.
Interior Ministry officials who visited them ordered for them to be transferred to the BDF Hospital around six hours later as a result.
"When a doctor from BDF Hospital was brought to examine us, the staff at SMC were not co-operative and initially refused to take me for a full body X-ray," she said.
"But after his insistence, male nurses took me into the X-ray department - but the whole experience was uncomfortable and scary, as I found myself alone in a dark room with four men who could not stop speaking about temporary marriage (a practice in which couples sign agreements that permit sex without a formal marriage) and related topics without giving any consideration to my feelings.
"I asked them to stop talking about such immoral acts, but to no avail.
"Afterwards, the medical staff refused to let an ambulance take us to BDF and claimed that after last year's unrest regulations did not allow ambulances to transfer patients from SMC to BDF and vice-versa.
"But upon the BDF Hospital doctor's insistence, they provided us with one."
Ms Zain Al Abedeen underwent three surgeries to remove glass from her right eyelid, eyebrow and cheeks and required 120 stitches on her face and 200 stitches all over her body, which took five days to complete.
She accused an SMC doctor of being disinterested in her son, who had six shards of glass in his eye, two embedded in one of his eyebrows and one that reached his skull.
"He had to undergo surgery for all this, but the SMC doctor who was a specialist poked in my son's eye with a cotton swab and said he was fine," she said.
Ms Zain Al Abedeen is now urging police to track down those behind the explosion outside her home, saying she no longer feels safe there. The family is now staying at a relative's house in Juffair.
"This whole incident has caused my family a great deal of stress. My son was social and friendly, but now he keeps to himself and avoids speaking to others," she said.
"I am worried about him because he keeps thinking I will die and leave them. He is getting nightmares about the attack and cannot sleep.
"It's heartbreaking because he has on a number of occasions fainted while walking and all this had affected him so much."
Abdulla is expected to undergo counselling to help him overcome the trauma and has returned to school under supervision, but with reduced hours.
Ms Zain Al Abedeen's husband, Nabeel Kazim, works in Dubai and was out of the country at the time of the incident. He flew home immediately after hearing about the attack and earlier told the GDN that it could be another three to six months before Ms Zain Al Abedeen fully recovers from her injuries.