A private medical institution and a specialist doctor have rejected claims by former finance minister Karen Nunez-Tesheira over their alleged negligence in her husband's death after a prostate operation in 2004.Lawyers representing Gulf View Medical Centre and anaesthesiologist Dr Crisen Roopchand did so yesterday as they began their no-case submission in a $20 million medical negligence lawsuit brought by Tesheira.
British Queen's Counsel Mary O'Rourke, who is representing the hospital, submitted that all the expert witnesses called by Nunez-Tesheira failed to prove conclusively her client and its staff were responsible for the death of the former insurance executive.O'Rourke said although she initially said she wished to call defence witnesses to testify, she felt that it would no longer be necessary because of major deficiencies she uncovered while questioning Nunez-Tesheira's witnesses earlier this week.
In the case of the first witness, Prof Phyllis Pitt-Miller, O'Rourke questioned her ability to assess the quality of care her client had provided to Nunez-Tesheira's husband, Russell."Your expertise might well be as an anaesthesiologist but it is not running a medical centre," O'Rourke said.
As she individually assessed each of Pitt-Miller's findings of alleged deficiencies in Tesheira's treatment, O'Rourke argued that the decisions criticised by Pitt-Miller, a retired lecturer at the University of the West Indies, were in the remit of his doctors and not the hospital."It has to be the decision of the physicians whose care he was under," O'Rourke said repeatedly as she persuaded Pitt-Miller to retract her claims over the hospital's link to Tesheira's death.
Roopchand's lawyer Roger Kawalsingh picked up where O'Rourke left off as he sought to prove that his client provided Tesheira with sufficient medical care during the operation.Saying Roopchand was only responsible for ensuring Tesheira was "properly sedated and comfortable" before, during and after the operation, Kawalsingh argued that the other medical professionals present should have been monitoring Tesheira's heavy bleeding which led to his death.
He also said his client had intervened to postpone the operation initially, owing to his concerns over Tesheira's heart condition.Both O'Rourke and Kawalsingh also took issue with several striking similarities in the statements of all Nunez-Tesheira's witnesses, who included two of his colleagues, who presented evidence on his remuneration package at the cash-strapped insurance giant Clico.
The case has been adjourned to February 23 when the lawyers will present oral submissions before High Court Judge Vasheist Kokaram gives his ruling on the no-case submission.Nunez-Tesheira is being represented by Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes and attorneys Simon de la Bastide and Marcelle Ferdinand.
About the case
Insurance executive Russell Tesheira died at the Gulf View Medical Centre hours after undergoing a transurethral resectioning of the prostate operation on April 13, 2004.During the procedure an instrument is inserted up the patient's urethra to remove the section of the prostate that is blocking urine flow.
Six years later his widow, Karen Nunez-Tesheira, filed the lawsuit claiming the hospital and the two doctors who did the procedure – anaesthesiologist Dr Crisen Jendra Roopchand and urologist Dr Lester Goetz – were negligent in her husband's death.In 2011, Justice Vasheist Kokaram dismissed the lawsuit at a preliminary stage after Nunez-Tesheira failed to meet two successive deadlines he set for filing her evidence against the three parties.
While appealing the decision, Nunez-Tesheira came to an agreement with Goetz which saw him being removed from the lawsuit. Nunez-Tesheira, a law lecturer and former government minister, eventually won in the Court of Appeal and the lawsuit was reinstated.