Medical malpractice plagues burns facilities

Misdiagnosis and negligence by incompetent doctors continue to claim the lives of trauma patients across the province

Wisal Yousafzai July 09, 2024
The Burns and Plastic Surgery Center in Peshawar. PHOTO: X/ @PTIofficial


For high school students left exhausted after a long exam session, the culmination of the academic term and the arrival of the summer holidays is an exhilarating moment. Such was the case for Abdul Samad and Ahmed Bilal, two teenage boys in Peshawar, who too had hoped to enjoy their summer break before a deadly accident mishandled by the negligence of doctors led death to prematurely knock at their door.

Planning a family trip to the scenic hills of Khyber-Paktunkhwa (K-P), the excitement of the two cousins was abruptly shattered after a devastating blast in their room caused them to sustain serious burn injuries. Even though the cause of the explosion remains uncertain, the immediate result was horrifying as the boys had to be rushed to the Burns and Plastic Surgery Hospital in Peshawar where instead of receiving life-saving treatment they met with the grim reality of medical negligence.

Dr Naveed Shah, an expert in Quality and Safety, recounted the heart-wrenching ordeal. "We were shocked to learn that no senior doctors were available, and junior doctors incorrectly assessed Samad with 85 per cent burns and Ahmad with 93 per cent injuries. They told us the boys had a 100 per cent mortality rate and wouldn't survive more than three days. Despite their dire predictions, the reality of their injuries was different, as later assessments revealed much lower burn percentages,” criticised Dr Shah.

The hospital's failure extended beyond mere misdiagnosis. "From day one, the medical team's disinterest was evident. They refused critical interventions, including CPR, and labelled the cases as palliative," Dr Shah lamented. This negligent attitude culminated in a hidden alteration of the initial burn assessments; a move Dr Shah described as a medical crime.

During their 12-day stay, the family witnessed a shocking lack of care. Requests for wound redressing were denied, and the boys were incubated without proper justification. The final blow came with the realization that the burns initially estimated at 93 per cent and 85 per cent were only 40 per cent and 62 per cent respectively.

Before succumbing to his injuries, Samad, fighting for his life, told his father, "Papa, I will fight till my last breath," to which his father replied, "Son, I will go beyond that for you." Ahmad too, equally courageous, mumbled his last words to his father, "I am strong and am not scared of anything. I love you for doing so much for me."

While the sudden loss of Samad and Ahmad brought a wave of shock for the parents of the two cousins, their grief is shared by other families in the province, who too have had to lose a loved one due to medical malpractice at a similar burns facility.

“These centres are a death threat for burn patients. When you admit your patient, the doctors and staff will turn you away by saying that the patient has more than 50 per cent injuries and there is very little chance of survival. There is only one trainee medical officer while no specialized doctors are available. The hospital has zero per cent performance since most of the patients either lose their lives or are referred to other hospitals,” claimed Imran Khan, an attendant who too lost his brother at the Hayatabad Burns and Trauma Centre.

These are shocking revelations coming from a province where as per data obtained by the Express Tribune from the Burn and Trauma Centre Peshawar, approximately 292,709 burn cases were reported in the plastic surgery and trauma units during the past five years.

On the contrary, Director Burn and Trauma Centre Peshawar Dr Tehmeed Ullah rejected all the allegations levied against the centre. “Survival chance is calculated through a formula for the Baux score, which takes into account the age and body burn of the patient. Our centre has 40 plastic surgeons and 12 associate professors while all the nurses are also fully trained.”


Radia | 1 week ago | Reply This vast amount of negligence affected more people than anyone could ve imagined. It was nothing less than torture for us and even more for those boys who lay at the mercy of their caregivers who clearly didn t care about tham. We demand immediate justice for this and for these irresponsible heartless butchers called doctors to be dealt with immediately with no time wasted. Who knows how many more they ve butchered or may in the future. This issue should immediately be brought to every eye in the public and every one of those doctors should be dealt with severely
Raziuddin Farooqi | 1 week ago | Reply The tragic deaths of Samad and Ahmad at the Burns and Plastic Surgery Hospital in Peshawar highlight a disturbing pattern of medical negligence in Khyber-Paktunkhwa s burn care facilities. The accounts of misdiagnosis refusal of critical care and disregard for patient well-being are deeply troubling. The hospital s blatant alteration of initial assessments and the lack of specialized care raise serious concerns about the competence and ethics of the medical staff. These heart-wrenching stories echoed by similar experiences of other families demand immediate attention and accountability to ensure that burn victims receive the life-saving care they deserve. The discrepancy between official claims and the grim reality on the ground further underscores the urgency of addressing this critical issue.
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