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Khan: Doctors must be held accountable

Sunday, March 9, 2014
Grieving mother Quelly Ann Cottle shows all her medication she takes for hypertension. PHOTO:RISHI RAGOONATH

Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says doctors must be held accountable for their actions at public health institutions. Khan said when a hospital in T&T is sued for malpractice or negligence and the patient wins the case in court, the State pays the bills. Khan said soon doctors would be responsible for their own medical indemnity. He said he would find a way to raise the doctors’ salaries to the point where they can take out their own medical insurance.



“So if anything goes wrong based on technique, they would be responsible. They would have to pay for it through their own medical indemnity. They would also have to look at their technique and take more precautions.” Khan said it was one way to discipline doctors in the health care system. “We would make all doctors responsible for their medical indemnity. You see, when a problem takes place, the people who get sued and the people who pay is the State... the State pays and takes all liability.”


Khan said when the State accepts liability, doctors become very lax and throw caution to the wind. The action comes eight days after a Caesarean-section was done on Quelly Ann Cottle at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital, which resulted in the death of her premature baby, who Cottle named Simeon. Simeon’s head was sliced during the surgery, which created an outrage. In the last three years, Khan said, his ministry has become a punching bag for litigation by aggrieved patients.


“What I am also going to do, which should have happened a long time ago, is develop an audit system to audit people’s (health care providers) work as well.” Asked why a senior consultant was not present at the time of the Caesarean-section, Khan said “this is part of the investigative process.”



Khan: Team to investigate baby’s Simeon’s death
By tomorrow or Tuesday, Khan said, a team would be selected to investigate what happened. “We are looking for people. We want a very tight team.” Khan described the death of Simeon “as a sad state of affairs. One has to find out exactly what went on. I am trying to figure out what happened in this case.” Khan said Cottle had 12 pregnancies. “When someone has gone through that level of pregnancies, the uterus is very thin. One has to enquire and look at the operative technique. Remember this problem occurred in an operation.


Everything else was okay. So we have to look at the reason why this operation went that way. Was the skin too thick...too thin? Was the uterus too thin? Did the guy put too much pressure on the blade? These are the technique you would have to look at.” Told that the doctor who performed the surgery had recently obtained his specialist certification, Khan said it meant the doctor was proficient to practise at any level. “That person is supposed to be able to handle any sort of case.”




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