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High Court judge demands doctors answer for C-section
A High Court judge has turned down an application by three doctors seeking to be removed from a medical negligence lawsuit over the death of Chrystal Ramsoomair. Justice Frank Seepersad, presiding in the Port-of-Spain High Court, denied the application to strike out the doctors from the lawsuit.
The doctors are resident House Officer Dr Mindira Seenath, House Officer Dr Deepawak Ramballack and Senior Medical Officer Dr Ashmeed Mohammed. The three were employees of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) at the time of Ramsoomair’s death. In a 15-page ruling on the preliminary issue, Seepersad said that to achieve a correct outcome in the case it was necessary to determine if the doctors were negligent.
“The resolution of this issue is fundamental to the intrinsic justice in this case,” Seepersad said. The SWRHA was also listed as a defendant in the matter. At a case management conference of the case held in November last, the health authority, through its attorneys, accepted liability for Ramsoomair’s death.
“The admission of liability by the SWRHA at such an early stage was indeed commendable, but does not in my view obviate the need for the court to hear the facts and adjudicate as to whether the doctors were negligent and whether they failed to extend to the duty of care that was to be expected from reasonable medical practitioners,” Seepersad said.
After that hearing, the trio filed the application in which they cited eight grounds which they said showed they should be removed from the lawsuit. The doctors claimed the health authority admitted liability on the basis of a number of factors which did not include their actions.
Ramsoomair, the 29-year-old mother of three, bled to death at the San Fernando General Hospital on March 4, 2011 after undergoing a Caesarean section (C-section) during the birth of her third child, Danielle. Ramsoomair’s death sparked massive public outcry which caused former Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis to appoint a three-member panel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the young mother’s death.
On June 2, 2011, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan disclosed that the investigation revealed there were several institutional shortcomings such as the rostering of doctors and shortage of nurses which contributed to the death. Ramsoomair’s husband Lorne filed the lawsuit in which he is seeking damages from the SWRHA, which operates the hospital, and doctors for his wife’s death.
Lorne claims the doctors’ standard of care for his wife was “far and or grossly below” that expected of a reasonable medical practitioner. He also claimed the doctors failed to properly monitor’s his wife’s condition after her first operation and also even after a second was performed to rectify complications from the first.
The lawsuit said after Chrystal delivered her baby at 12.24 pm on March 4, 2011, her vital signs were not monitored until 2.15 pm while she lay on a bed in the maternity ward. A second operation was done to stop the bleeding of a blood vessel in the uterus that had allegedly been left open from the C-section. The lawsuit alleged that this operation took place six hours after the first procedure.
After the second operation, according to the lawsuit, another blood vessel was severed. The lawsuit also referred to the post mortem performed by forensic pathologist Prof Hubert Daisley, which revealed that two blood vessels were not ligated (tied off). The cause of death was listed as post-partum haemorrhage.
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