(MENAFN - Arab News) After serious violations, 85 medical facilities in Jeddah were temporarily closed this year.
The facilities included 39 clinics, 36 pharmacies, four medical support centers and five wards in private hospitals in the period between Nov. 26, 2011 and Nov. 15 this year, Director of Health Affairs in Jeddah Sami Badawood told Al-Hayat daily. One private hospital was closed down permanently.
The punishments were meted out temporarily as the final closure of a hospital is the last resort when other measures fail.
"The health authorities adopt a graded approach while taking deterrent actions. First punishment is fining, the next step is the temporary closure of a facility that repeats its errors. The last step is the final closure of the facility," Badawood said.
The director said a closed hospital would be permitted to reopen if it rectified all the violations it committed in the past, and after a committee of the ministry ensured that the conditions in the hospital were totally safe and in line with relevant regulations.
He said inspection officials of his department frequently made surprise visits to hospitals and other medical facilities.
"The inspection committee, which is comprised of officials from the health affairs department, civil defense and municipality, ensures that regulations governing health and safety arrangements are implemented in hospitals," the official said.
The inspection visits are made three or four times a year to all establishments.
He added that the most common violation committed in hospitals was a lack of qualified personnel, especially consultant doctors.
He said some hospitals had more than one operation theater and intensive care wards under a single consultant. Such hospitals justify this kind of violation on the ground that it is hard to come by consultants in some areas of specialization.
Another commonly found violation is employing unqualified workers or personnel whose license to practice their profession had expired.
The recent closure of the Dr. Erfan and Bagedo hospital is not the first time a hospital was closed for medical mistakes in the Kingdom. A famous hospital in Riyadh was closed after 33 years of service in July. A medical compound was closed in Jeddah in September last year. A large hospital in Dammam was closed for weeks for fatal mistakes.
An earlier report of the Ministry of Health said 129 people died because of medical mistakes in 2009. According to another report, 21 patients died in Madinah city in 2010 and 20 patients died in Riyadh due to medical errors.