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Thu 23 Aug 2007 10:48 AM

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Doctors 'mishandled' shawarma poisoning

Jordanian doctors to face disciplinary action after treatment of salmonella outbreak judged 'inadequate'.

Emergency room doctors handling shawarma-related food poisoning cases in Jordan may face disciplinary action following a recommendation made from a government-commissioned panel investigating the incidents.

The panel has found that public hospitals in the historic town of Salt ‘mishandled’ the cases, with procedures at Al Hussain Public Hospital where most people were treated being “inadequate and marred by several shortcomings,” said a statement cited by the Jordan Times today.

The panel’s statement added that patients were left in the hands of inexperienced doctors who did not seek assistance from specialised physicians.

The panel was formed after 247 people contracted salmonella poisoning after eating chicken shawarmas at a local restaurant in the Baqaa Palestinian refugee camp close to Amman.

At the beginning of last week the Jordanian government banned restaurants across the kingdom from serving the popular meal following the outbreak, giving no indication as to when the ban will be lifted.

The restaurant where the outbreak originated has been closed and its owner and staff arrested. The owner is facing up to three years in prison and a fine.

In the wake of the food scare scandal, Jordan’s health officials have put forward a proposal that would oblige all shawarma restaurants to adopt an officially approved 'self-check' quality control programme as a prerequisite for the sale of chicken.

Under the proposal to deal with the shawarma case, a new committee at the Jordan Food and Drug Administration (JFDA) will require outlets selling the sandwiches to develop their own checklists that follow specific guidelines in compliance with food safety and hygiene standards.

Al Hussain Public Hospital is also facing lawsuits from the family of a man who died from shawarma-related food poisoning after not being adequately treated at the hospital’s emergency room.

Batool Abu Irsheid, head of Al-Hussain hospital’s emergency section, said Bilal Jarwan, 23, was among many patients who came to the emergency room after eating contaminated shawarmas.

“We dealt with all patients in the same manner and only critical cases were admitted,” Abu Irsheid told Jordan Times last week.

The family is also filing lawsuits against the restaurant’s owner.

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