The government has refused a Times of Malta Freedom of Information request about an investigation into alleged negligence at Mater Dei Hospital that left a baby needing a leg amputation abroad.

In November 2022, seven-month-old Zayn Seguna was admitted to Mater Dei after developing bronchiolitis during a family trip to Malta to visit family.

But this was not the end of baby Seguna’s troubles. His family claimed that, while treating him, doctors damaged an artery causing a blood clot to form.

The clot and resulting restricted blood flow caused Zayn’s left leg to swell, leading to significant muscle and tissue damage, according to the boy’s mother, who later told the Australian media that the Maltese doctors operating on her son had “destroyed his life”.

After four days under observation, the decision was made to send baby Seguna to the UK for emergency treatment, where doctors were forced to amputate the lower half of his leg.

The boy’s family later accused doctors at Mater Dei of negligence and filed a formal complaint against the hospital. 

Responding to questions last year, a spokesperson for the health ministry said an internal investigation had been opened and was ongoing.

Contacted again earlier this year with questions about the investigation and its findings, the ministry said that “Mater Dei took the necessary actions and implemented recommendations after an internal review was concluded” but did not supply any other details.

Times of Malta subsequently lodged a Freedom of Information (FOI) request with the health ministry asking for a copy of the review’s findings and recommendations.

But that request was refused, with the ministry’s chief medical officer Walter Busuttil saying the findings were “considered as an exempt document”. According to Busuttil, the review was exempt from the FOI process because it benefited from “professional privilege”, a legal concept which protects communication between some professionals and their clients from being disclosed, because lawyers acting for Mater Dei had compiled the report.

The chief medical officer also said the findings of the hospital review were exempt from the FOI process because their release could influence any ongoing related trial or disciplinary hearing.

Sources close to the medical council (MCM) said an investigation was underway but had been “suspended pending the outcome of court decisions and appeals”.

At the time of publication, however, Times of Malta was not able to find information on any civil court case lodged by the boy’s family in Australia or Malta and, when contacted, the police said they had not investigated the incident.

Sources also said that, “given the constitutional case, the MCM has suspended such cases as well”, in reference to the constitutional court case by doctor and Nationalist MP Stephen Spiteri.

Spiteri had successfully argued the council had breached his fundamental rights when investigating him for allegedly signing medical certificates without examining patients, with the constitutional court subsequently nullifying the council’s proceedings.

Times of Malta plans to appeal the FOI decision.

Last year, Times of Malta won an appeal against Enemalta before the Freedom of Information watchdog, the IDPC, after the State-owned energy company also claimed an internal report about the Montenegro wind farm deal was legally privileged. It was subsequently ordered to hand over the report.

Sign up to our free newsletters

Get the best updates straight to your inbox:
Please select at least one mailing list.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By subscribing, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing.