Friday, 13th November 2009 - 11:45CET
Two doctors charged with involuntary homicide of Eritrean immigrant
Two doctors were this morning charged with the involuntary homicide of an immigrant from Eritrea, back in February 2005.
Police Inspector Joseph Agius testified that he was informed of the death of Sagid IIsraquay Tegualde, a migrant living at the Safi detention centre on February 6, 2005.
The Eritrean had arrived in Malta for the second time on September 17, 2004. He had already entered the country illegally and had been deported.
Mr IIsraquay Tegualde had a history of asthma and suffered from TB and it was not the first time that he had been admitted to St Luke’s Hospital.
A month before his death, he suffered an asthma attack, a doctor from the Paola health centre was called and the patient was referred to hospital. But when the ambulance arrived, he became violent and refused to go.
On February 4, he was taken to St Luke’s Hospital and placed in the M8 ward.
The day after, he was examined by one of the doctors being charged, who is 28. She told the police in her statement that the patient was short of breath, aggressive and refused to be examined.
The doctor called her superior, a 31-year-old doctor who is also being charged with the Eritrean’s involuntary homicide, and informed her what was happening.
This doctor was in another ward visiting other patients and instructed the younger doctor to give the patient five milligrammes of valium to calm him down.
The younger doctor administered the medicine even though she knew asthma sufferers should not be given valium. Later, she gave him nebulised ventolin, he suffered from a heart attack and died soon after.
The senior doctor told the police she had received a call from the other doctor informing her that the patient, who had asthma and tubercolosis, was being aggressive.
She instructed her to give him valium as she had other patients to see to. She said that she visited him two hours later and he complained of chest pains. In view of his asthma history, she decided to give him ventolin.
Next time she visited him, he had died.
An autopsy showed that the Eritrean died from a collapsed lung, intra-pulmonary leakage and bronchial asthma.
The court banned publication of the doctors’ names.
The case continues in December.