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AG after baby’s death at Mt Hope Hospital: Maternity in T&T needs urgent look

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

T&T’s maternity sector requires urgent attention, says Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. He said if there was evidence to suggest that the death of a baby boy whose head was slashed during a C-section birth crossed from the realm of civil law into a criminal case he would have no difficulty in referring it to acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams and Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard.



Ramlogan was fielding questions from the media after yesterday’s Public Accounts Committee meeting in Parliament. He is expected to get a detailed file from Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan. In an interview with the T&T Guardian on Tuesday, Khan said given the nature of the investigation and the details which had emerged thus far, it was wise to seek legal advice from Ramlogan. 


Ramlogan, who said he was awaiting the report, said: “I will take a hard and cold look in the facts on this matter to see where the system fell down with such terrible, horrible and fatal consequences.” He said during his private practice he did extensive work in the field of medical negligence to the extent where doctors were “deregistered.” 



He added: “I think that professional and institutional negligence is one that the State has a duty and a responsibility to look at because we cannot shirk from our duty and responsibility to wider patient population when it comes to these matters. “The public health care system in Trinidad is one that requires political examination, bearing the law in mind, because the law imposes the duty of care and certain standards of care, and those minimum legal standards must be met.” 


If such standards were not met, he added, that would expose the State to litigation, the costs of which would be quite high. “This is why I suspect my colleague has indicated he has referred this matter to me for eventual determination and action. “Rest assured, when it comes to the issue of medical negligence and allegations around it, we would look at the matter dispassionately, objectively and professionally to determine what went wrong, why it went wrong and how it can be prevented in the future,” he added.


He said nevertheless he did not want to cast any blame on the doctors or say that the anguish of the parents was unjustified. Ramlogan also warned that the matter must not be prejudged as that would prejudice the outcome of the investigation. He said the loss of a baby under such circumstances was bound to cause outrage and had personally affected him as a father.


“But at the same time, we must allow the system to at least have its say so that we don’t be swayed by emotions alone, because the doctor too is a human being, because he would have studied half his life to specialise,” Ramlogan said.




What happened
The baby boy, who was to be named Simeon, endured some ten to 15 minutes of agony before he eventually died as he came out of the womb alive. His mother, Quelly Ann Cottle, 38, went to the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital on Carnival Saturday to have a C-section after being transferred from the Sangre Grande District Hospital. 



Mother hospitalised for six hours
Cottle was hospitalised for six hours yesterday at the Sangre Grande District Hospital after her blood pressure skyrocketed. In an interview yesterday she also complained of a headache. “I went to the hospital to see about my stitches and they kept me for the high pressure. I went to Grande because I did not want to go to Mt Hope,” Cottle said.  She said she had expected to get a final autopsy report yesterday but hospital officials told her it was not yet ready.


Contacted yesterday, Health Minister Fuad Khan said the investigative team to do the clinical analysis had not yet been appointed.


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