An investigation will also be conducted into the still-birth of a baby boy whose mother Simone Critchlow-Taylor went into labour at the hospital last Saturday.
Health Minister Therese Baptiste-Cornelis announced the suspensions in the Boodoo- Ramsoomair case yesterday at a news conference at the ministry’s Park Street headquarters in Port-of-Spain.
Chrystal died at the hospital on March 4 at 10.55 pm, 11 hours after she gave birth to a baby girl Danielle, by caesarean section. Her mother Joyce Boodoo said her daughter was taken to the operating theatre at 11 am on March 4 for the caesarean-section. Boodoo said Chrystal decided to have her fallopian tubes tied and her husband Lorne agreed to this procedure. However, Boodoo said Chrystal started bleeding profusely after the procedure and was rushed back into the operating room to have a hysterectomy performed.
A post mortem done on March 7 by pathologist Dr Hubert Daisely revealed Chrystal died of hypovolaemic shock consistent with post-hysterectomy.
Addressing yesterday’s briefing, Baptiste-Cornelis declared Government will “no longer tolerate the untimely demise of our patients who have been put into our care” and will take the necessary steps to restore public confidence in the country’s health sector. “In order to facilitate the investigation, the South West Regional Health Authority’s (SWRHA) Board has advised me that five doctors and four nurses involved in this case will proceed on two weeks suspension with basic pay,” she said.
Sources told Newsday these doctors together with the four nurses form one of four units in the O&G Department and their suspensions mean the remaining three units will now be called upon to take up the slack. Baptiste-Cornelis said the SWRHA has been authorised to out-source medical personnel from private institutions over the next two weeks if it becomes necessary to fill the gap left by the suspension of the doctors and nurses.
“I do hope that the relevant unions will not take this opportunity to use this display by the Government for standing up for the rights of our patients to wreak havoc in our system,” Baptiste-Cornelis said. Doctors and nurses at the SFGH are represented by the Medical Professionals Association of TT (MPATT) and the Public Services Association (PSA) respectively.
PSA president Watson Duke said he was aware of the suspension and would deal with the matter today. Efforts to contact MPATT for comment were unsuccessful.
Baptiste-Cornelis also said the SWRHA will continue to provide counselling service to Ramsoomair’s family.
Contacted yesterday, Ramsoomair’s brother Shiva Boodoo said, “This is a step in the right direction.” He added that he was pleased the ministry was “pursuing the matter with some aggression.”
SWRHA chief executive officer Paula Chester-Cumberbatch, last evening, confirmed the board took the decision to suspend the doctors and nurses and an independent investigative panel was appointed to determine the circumstances of the woman’s death. She declined to name those suspended.
“There must not be a public perception of any guilt on the part of the doctors until investigations are completed,” she said.
The board has decided to “make adjustments” to the O&G Department given the suspension of the staff of one of its three units and gave the assurance there will not be a shortfall of doctors at the affected unit. A statement is expected to be released today identifying the persons appointed to investigate the death.
SWRHA chairman Lackhan Bodoe, said doctors from other departments have given their commitment to assist in manning the affected unit.
Bodoe, during the media conference, reiterated the authority’s condolences to Chrystal’s family.
He then disclosed another maternity related-case under investigation, extending condolences to the family of Simone Critchlow-Taylor whose baby boy was “ born dead in the uterus” at the hospital last Saturday. Critchlow-Taylor’s family claimed the baby’s death was the result of negligence. “We are concerned with feedback received from the relatives and mother. We give you an assurance that an investigation will be done into the matter,” Bodoe said.
Baptiste-Cornelis said she expects to receive advice from Attorney General Anand Ramlogan today about three other maternity related deaths. She said one of these cases was the death of 25-year-old Nikisha Caine who choked to death on her own vomit at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital on November 2.
Baptiste-Cornelis said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar indicated last week that of these three other cases, “two of them have showed no fault of the doctors or nurses involved, but all three cases have recommended procedural change.”
Noting all of the country’s Regional Health Authorities have maternity related challenges, Baptiste-Cornelis said this was why Persad-Bissessar appointed Bodoe to chair a committee which will develop “a national perspective on maternity deaths.”