Alien justice--the pitfalls of foreign work.
Pub Date: 01/01/2013
Publication: Name: South African Medical Journal Publisher: South African Medical Association Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2013 South African Medical Association ISSN: 0256-9574
Issue: Date: Jan, 2013 Source Volume: 103 Source Issue: 1
Accession Number: 312828746
Full Text: The legal vulnerability of healthcare workers in foreign countries where justice operates in unfamiliar ways has never been better illustrated than by the shocking case of one of the doyens of haematology and oncology in the South African state sector, Professor Cyril Karabus.

As of 13 December 2012 he was still on trial for manslaughter and forgery, his sudden arrest having taken place at Dubai Airport's passport control on 18 August-a decade after the incident. (He was about to board a connecting flight to Cape Town after attending his son's wedding in Canada.) Karabus did a 5-week locum at the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre in Abu Dhabi in 2002, during which a 3-year-old Yemeni girl he was caring for, suffering from acute myeloid leukaemia, succumbed to an intracranial haemorrhage as a complication of profound pancytopenia. Unbeknown to him or (supposedly) the Canadian agency that hired him, he'd been tried in absentia in 2003 and found guilty of murder, a verdict set aside on appeal. A fresh manslaughter charge claimed that he failed to give his patient vital platelets and then 'doctored' the files post mortem to show that he had done so. Vital supporting documents from the time went missing and he was out on R240 000 bail (sans passport), having spent 57 days in prison. He lives with a pacemaker and stent, putting him at risk in what seemed an interminable trial. Izindaba profiles the case. (1,2)

For South African practitioners the whole sorry saga represents a 'cautionary tale'. Think twice about risking reputation and freedom before committing to a foreign locum post.

(1.) Bateman C. Karabus trial-a cautionary tale. S Afr Med J 2013;103(1):13-14 [http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/ SAMJ.6584]

(2.) Bateman C. Lack of clinical notes angered UAE judge in Karabus case. S Afr Med J 2013;103(1):14-15. [http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAMJ.6603]
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