In a tragic incident, a Saudi Arabian boy lost his life after a swab stick broke in his nasal cavity while getting tested for COVID-19.
Child Complained of a Fever
The one and a half year old was first brought to the Shaqra General Hospital after he complained of a fever on Friday evening.
While examinations by a doctor revealed that the boy was healthy, they decided to proceed with conducting a nasal swab.
According to his uncle and legal guardian, Mosaed al-Joufan in an interview with Al Arabiya, a Saudi Arabian news site, the boy “did not suffer from any chronic or dangerous diseases”.
Image source: Al Arabiya
During the test for coronavirus, the swab reportedly broke in the boy’s nasal cavity, and general anaesthesia was necessary in order to extract the broken swab.
The boy’s father was said to have initially objected to the procedure but later agreed after consulting with some family members, and was reassured by hospital staff.
The surgery ended around 1am and the swab was successfully removed.
According to Al Arabiya, the boy’s mother—who was with him after he regained consciousness—requested for a specialised doctor through the staff.
Family Requested for Doctor to Check on Status
She wanted the doctor to check on her son’s status: to ensure that the swab was completely removed, and that there were no surgery complications such as bleeding or breathing difficulties among others.
Hospital staff, however, informed her that she had to wait as the doctor was not available, al-Joufan said.
The next morning at 9am, the boy lost consciousness. According to al-Joufan, the medical staff performed CPR and put him on mechanical ventilation.
A Saudi boy dies after nasal swab stick breaks during a COVID-19 testing. | Image source: Al Arabiya
The boy’s father arrived at the hospital and demanded the specialist doctor. A radiologist performed an X-ray on the boy and found evidence of a blockage of the airway in one of the lungs.
An Alleged Case of Medical Negligence
After his condition deteriorated, according to the boy’s uncle, the one-and-a-half-year-old was supposed to be transported to a specialist hospital in Riyadh in order to save his life.
He said: “The request was approved early, but we sat in the hospital waiting for an ambulance which did not reach the emergency section until an hour later.”
Reports said while the ambulance arrived at 1.19pm, the boy’s family was kept waiting until sometime between 3pm to 5pm whereby he was pronounced dead by then.
The family has requested an investigation into the child’s unexpected death, as well as the procedures in which he underwent.
“I await the punishment of the person responsible for the child’s death,” al-Joufan said.
The Kingdom’s Minister of Health Tawfiq bin Fawzan al-Rabiah has responded by ordering an investigation into the incident.
He also reached out to the child’s father to offer his condolences and vowed to follow up on the case personally.
Lead image adapted from Al Arabiya.