Hopes to save injured party with quick turnaround: judge

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has ruled that medical staff’s delay in treating the wound of a man, who lost the head of his penis in a botched circumcision 12 years ago, had extinguished all hope of a successful operation to save the injured part of him.

Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir, in his written judgment released on May 27, said that while performing the circumcision of the 10-year-old child, a hospital assistant at Kuala Lipis Hospital inadvertently cut off the entire extremity of the penis which is called the penis gland.

“The severed part of the penis was retrieved and he (a hospital assistant) attempted to put it back in place by stitching it up. The incident happened around 10.30 a.m.,” he said.

Akhtar said the hospital assistant informed Kuala Lipis Hospital of the botched circumcision at 10:45 a.m. and the hospital should have immediately prepared an ambulance to send the complainant to Selayang Hospital.

“However, by delaying the complainant’s transfer to Selayang Hospital and spending time settling trivia, the court found that the doctor at Kuala Lipis Hospital had failed in his duty of care to provide medical fast processing,” he said.

The judge further said that there was other testimony that Selayang Hospital had been informed of the plaintiff’s transfer, but medical staff had not taken steps to prepare for possible surgery.

“There was a further delay in performing the operation which was performed late in the evening, around 10 hours after the incident. The court finds that the medical staff at Selayang Hospital failed in their duty of diligence in delaying the operation,” the judge said.

On April 7, Akhtar awarded damages totaling RM3.1 million to a 22-year-old man after clearing his lawsuit against the government and four others, namely the doctor and director of the Kuala Lipis Hospital and the specialist and director of Selayang Hospital.

The man filed a complaint on July 19, 2018, through his mother, claiming that the circumcision process performed on December 13, 2010 was not carried out according to the prescribed procedure, which resulted in the cutting off of all the head of her son’s penis.

Following this, she claimed that her son suffered from a permanent disability and became a quiet person.

In the judgment, Akhtar said the court took note of the fact that there were two different views in the testimony of the experts called in this case.

“One view is that the delay had no bearing on the extent of the injury and therefore it was impossible to complete surgery even if the operation was performed immediately. However, the court chose to accept expert testimony that a delay in the operation had caused the impossible situation of a successful operation,” he said.

He said the court therefore concluded that the doctors who attended to the plaintiff had failed in their duty of care and had therefore been negligent in the performance of their duties, which had caused all the losses suffered by the applicant.

Akhtar noted that the main loss suffered by the plaintiff is the loss of the most precious possession a man can have.

“There is certainly nothing that can replace this loss. All the shame and humiliation suffered by the applicant is the result of this terrible loss. The mother had testified that since the age of 10, the applicant entered in a shell and finds it difficult to interact with others let alone develop the courage to marry.

“Even if the plaintiff develops courage in the opinion of the court, no woman who knows the plaintiff’s condition will want to marry him,” the judge added. — Bernama

About Antoine L. Cassell

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