Ex-Prolintas CEO’s estate awarded RM5.1mil damages over medical negligence

The High Court has ordered Pusat Pakar Tawakal Sdn Bhd and two doctors to pay the estate of Zainudin Abdul Kadir RM5.1 million in damages and costs of RM210,000.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has awarded RM5.1 million in damages to the estate of the former CEO of highway operator Prolintas, who suffered brain damage after surgery at a private hospital.

Justice Arief Emran Arifin said the plaintiff had proven on a balance of probabilities that Pusat Pakar Tawakal Sdn Bhd, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon, and an anaesthetist were liable for medical negligence.

“The damages awarded by the court are to be borne jointly and severally by the defendants,” he said in a 79-page judgment posted on the judiciary’s website earlier this week.

He also ordered the hospital and the two doctors to pay another RM210,000 in costs to the estate of Zainudin Abdul Kadir.

The bulk of the damages amounting to RM4 million came from loss of earnings, as the deceased was employed and had earned RM65,000 a month.

Another RM500,000 was for pain and suffering.

Arief said it was not the function of the court to punish the doctors or hospital but to compensate the plaintiff.

“The award of damages is an attempt by the legal system to put the plaintiff in the same position as far monetary compensation can,” he said.

The judge said the chain of events that caused damage to the deceased involved a premature release from the postoperative recovery process and several unfortunate events which took place at the ward.

According to the facts of the case, Zainudin was admitted to the hospital on Feb 22, 2016 and underwent nasal surgery four days later.

The surgery began at 5.45pm and ended at 8.05pm. Records showed no untoward incident during the surgery.

However, Zainudin collapsed at 9.30pm.

The hospital’s protocol said doctors must observe patients in the recovery bay for at least an hour after the reversal of the anaesthesia before they are discharged to the ward, but in Zainudin’s case the process only lasted 25 minutes.

As the patient was still drowsy, the ENT surgeon intubated him in the oesophagus instead of the trachea which led to the brain damage.

After the operation, he was transferred to a VIP ward where the oxygen adapter was also missing.

“I find the defendants are all jointly and severally liable for what transpired and cannot now put the blame solely on the second defendant (ENT surgeon),” Arief said.

The suit was filed in 2018.

Zainudin died in 2021 during the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in his wife, Nor Rizam Abdul Wahab, the administrator of his estate, being substituted as the plaintiff.

Lawyers Manmohan Singh Dhillon and Aika Zulaika Yusof represented the plaintiff, Felix Raj and Ahmad Aizek Busu appeared for the hospital, Navamalar Ganesan for the ENT surgeon, and Barvina Punnusamy for the anaesthetist.

All the defendants have filed an appeal on liability and quantum.


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