TWO injured Bahraini protesters who died when doctors made their conditions worse to stir up a media frenzy were identified yesterday.
Ali Ahmed Ahmed Abdulla and Abdulredha Mohammed Hassan died unnecessarily in the hands of doctors at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC), said Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowment Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ali Al Khalifa as he revealed the initial findings of ongoing investigations.
Both were admitted to SMC on February 17 and surgery was conducted in the presence of the media, Shaikh Khalid told a Press conference at the Information Affairs Authority, Isa Town, yesterday. Mr Abdulla was admitted after he sustained a thigh injury and Mr Hassan after he was shot in the head.
Shaikh Khalid said for the sake of media drama the surgeon treating Mr Abdulla deliberately expanded his injury, which caused a haemorrhage that could not be controlled.
The patient was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) where he died later that day.
The surgeon treating Mr Hassan also made an unnecessary large incision to his head and it caused an uncontrollable haemorrhage, said the minister.
Cotton was used to stop the bleeding and it was covered with a dressing and the patient was transferred to ICU where he died two days later, he added.
He said doctors also exaggerated the wounds and conditions of other patients and performed surgeries that were not needed. He said foreign correspondents and satellite channel reporters were allowed inside the operation theatre to film surgeries and used close-up and special effects to dramatise the situation and influence the local and international community. A GDN photographer was presented while one operation was carried out before the cameras.
Shaikh Khalid revealed a long list of violations and illegal practises conducted by 47 defendants, including 24 doctors and 23 nurses and paramedics.
Charges levelled against them include refusal to extend assistance to a person in need, embezzlement of public funds, assault that resulted in death, unauthorised possession of weapons and ammunition, illegal detention and incitement to the hatred of a regime, incitement to the hatred of a segment of society, dissemination of false news and malicious rumours that could harm public interest and participation in unauthorised rallies and meetings.
He said investigations revealed a doctor with the help of hospital staff supported protesters with the aim of escalating the situation and distorting the image of Bahrain within the international community.
They formed a panel, headed by the doctor, selected a spokesperson and a secretary-general and set up a media panel which played a highly visible role in the contact between the defendants and demonstrators.
A GDN reporter was prevented from entering the hospital because he did not have an identity batch given out by protesters.
Another doctor was tasked with paperwork, in co-operation with accomplices to forge the hospital's certificates and records and produce fake statistics, said Shaikh Khalid.
He said the move was highly unethical and eventually caused the non-providing of crucial and much-needed medical care and resulted in serious harm and death of patients.
The unlawful detention of people and seizure and abuse of public funds were regular crimes throughout the occupation of the hospital, he added.
Shaikh Khalid said based on investigations, confessions of defendants, witnesses reports and testimonies, there was conclusive evidence that the committee imposed a full control on who entered or left the hospital by guarding and monitoring its gates and assigning saboteurs and brutes to manage them.
The panel did not allow the treatment of some citizens and residents based on their sect affiliations and restricted medical care for those admitted for one reason or another, he said.
The records show how remarks were placed on the records of patients who belonged to a sect that differed from those of the defendants. The word 'baltaji' (thug) was used, he added.
"Some people surrounded the hospital and had weapons so that patients were treated according to their sectarian belief and nationality.
"Patients didn't receive the treatment they needed. The hospital became a place for demonstrations, meetings were held and tents erected.
"Special media channels were allowed to be at the service of protesters. I think the medical profession was greatly abused during this time when people were very weak and needed someone to trust."
Investigations revealed defendants also took bags from SMC Blood Bank which were used by demonstrators to splatter blood on their bodies and claim they were injured, said Shaikh Khalid.
He said a consultant in charge of an important room within the Emergency Department issued orders to the doctors to give Atropine to those who suffered from dyspnoea and convulsions.
This resulted in the aggravation of the cases as the drug stimulates the heart rate. The purpose was to show the tear gas used by police to disperse crowds was not allowed internationally, he said.
Patients were admitted into SMC after they breathed tear gas and claimed their bodies were covered with a white substance.
Shaikh Khalid said investigations revealed that the substance was Moxal, normally used to reduce acidity in the stomach and treat heartburns and has no medical use in preventing asphyxia.
"Since February 14 some paramedics and medical staff got involved in activities clashing with medical ethics," said Shaikh Khalid.
He said the hospital was transformed into an area for vociferous demonstrations, sit-ins and loud slogans, a clear violation of the law that bans such activities near hospitals.
He said some defendants videotaped their incendiary statements filled with false information and spiteful rumours and disseminated them via satellite channels and the Internet.
He said large quantities of medication and medical equipment that were the property of SMC were stolen and transported to the GCC Roundabout. "The hospital was transformed into a hostage place and this shocked everyone. There were attacks on Asians, weapons were stored, swords, knifes and Molotov cocktails were found in the place.
"Ambulances were used to move protesters from one area to another.
"In the Bahrain University incident they used ambulances to transport protesters and some hostages were taken by ambulance to SMC.
"Some people died in their homes because the ambulances didn't reach them in time and one was a sickle cell patient," he added.