Ria Rambally and Rosemarie Sant
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Khan working on probe team
A detailed file on the death of the baby boy whose head was slashed from ear to ear during a caesarean-section surgery is to be sent to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. This was confirmed by Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan during an interview last night. Khan said given the nature of the investigation and the details which have emerged thus far, it was only wise to seek legal advice from Ramlogan. "I believe something of this nature must be considered and looked at by the Attorney General. "He is after all the legal representative of the government," Khan explained.
On the details of the investigative team, Khan said it would comprise a small number, probably fewer than five. He said he met with various representative of the regional health authorities yesterday to discuss who was best suited to be part of the team. Certain names were considered, , he added,one of which could include a doctor from the United Kingdom. "At this point we are considering everyone. I have another meeting with the chief medical officer tomorrow (today) and from there we will decide on the final details of the team," Khan added. He acknowledged there were a lot of emotions involved in the matter but said it must be put into perspective. "There is the loss of a life involved and a host of issues which must be put into the proper perspective and we have to be guided in what we do."
Once a team is implemented it would take between two to three weeks for the investigation to be completed, officials from the health ministry said. They added that particular probe would deal directly with negligence. "The final report which was prepared by the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) has nothing to do with negligence. It deals specifically with
process and procedure, so it is two different issues being examined," one official added.
The baby boy, who was to be named Simeon, endured some ten to 15 minutes of agony before he eventually died. His mother, Quelly Ann Cottle, 38, went to the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital on Carnival Saturday to have a c-section operation done. She was transferred from the Sangre Grande District Hospital. In an interview yesterday, Cottle said she remembered when the baby, who was seven months two weeks old, was taken out of the womb screaming. “I remember being sewn up, and after, when I was being wheeled out of the operating theatre, I looked back. I saw my baby on a table with a plaster on his head screaming. “I was aware of what was going on, because they did not put me to sleep to do the operation, they just numb me from the waist down...so it's not like I did not know what was going on,” Cottle said.
She said when she was taken back to the postnatal ward she repeatedly asked the nurse to be allowed to hold her son. Cottle also asked why it was taking so long for the baby to brought up to the ward. The only answer she was given, she said, was that the doctor was "seeing about the baby because he got a little cut on the head." The nurses also assured her that she would get to hold her baby and that everything was fine."They keep giving me hope. All this time I'm in the ward after the surgery asking for the baby and nobody want to tell me anything. "I kept believing my baby coming just now for me to hold him," Cottle said. She said it was only when a paediatrician came to visit her some some time later that she realised her baby was dead. Even then, she added, she got no clear answers.
"The paediatrician was taking about my baby in the past tense...she was saying the baby 'was....' "I asked her, 'What you mean, “was?”'...That was when I realised my baby was dead," Cottle remembered. She paid kudos to one doctor who she said had looked after her properly from day one. "She came to the ward and held my hand. She said, 'I don't know what to tell you.' "She just sat with me and stayed with me...a perfect stranger," Cottle added. There were specific medical personnel, she said, who were insisting that the cause of her baby's death was severe prematurity.
Baby born alive
Hospital officials have confirmed the baby did not die immediately but was born alive. One official said efforts were made to try to resuscitate the infant but proved futile. The official added that the cut appeared to be "very deep." Cottle said she met with hospital officials yesterday morning who offered to pay the full cost of the burial, which was estimated at $6,000. Cottle described the meeting with the officials as courteous, saying they took her husband's number and promised to keep in touch. On the date and time of the service, Cottle said that was yet to be decided, as she wanted to ensure all the facts were properly documented before her son was laid to rest. She is expected to receive a detailed autopsy report today on her son's death.
Hospital officials said the death certificate listed the cause of death as:
•Laceration to right parietal lobe of brain
•Penetrating injury to right parietal bone
•Iatrogenic laceration to scalp
The detailed autopsy report, officials said, would include more details.
Clinical pathologist Dr Chunilal Ramjit did the autopsy.
The doctors involved
The doctor who performed the surgery, a registrar, has since been suspended with basic pay with immediate effect pending the outcome of an investigation. Questions were also raised about the whereabouts of two consultants. It was reported that the registrar was left on his own to do the operation, as one consultant was in Tobago and the other did not report for duty. Apart from working at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex, they also reportedly work in a private capacity at a private hospital in east Trinidad.
Once a team is implemented it would take between two to three weeks for the investigation to be completed, officials from the health ministry said. They added that particular probe would deal directly with negligence.“The final report which was prepared by the North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) has nothing to do with negligence. It deals specifically with process and procedure, so it is two different issues being examined," one official added.
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