Legal threat over seven dead babies

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Shaniya Raymond-Adams and Kerron Charles, the parents of baby Kae’ Jhene Kerniah Charles, mourn the death of their daughter at the Port of Spain General Hospital. –

Relatives of the seven babies who died at the Port of Spain General Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) between April 4 and 7 have initiated legal action against the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA), citing medical negligence.

The legal threat claims a baby with a serious viral infection had been transferred from a private medical facility to the NICU “with no precautions taken to isolate the other babies from the risk of infection.”

“Our clients noticed that the medical staff were not sanitising and washing their hands as they were being asked to do on the basis that failure to do so could be detrimental. If the staff who were caring for this compromised baby were not washing their hands and sanitising then there is a real risk that they transmitted the infection. Barring this, the hospital will have to explain how these babies died whilst they were under their care and control,” the pre-action protocol letter said.

The letter, which was sent to the NWRHA’s CEO Anthony Blake, on behalf of Shaniya Raymond-Adams, Natasha Samuel, Shaquille Harry, Danyelle Samaroo, Tinelle Saunders, Jodie Molino and Shirese Moore-Beckles, claims to be “an unprecedented class action claim for medical negligence based on the mass death of seven innocent babies at the PoSGH.”

The letter alleged the seven babies have “died as a result of the sheer medical negligence, incompetence and substandard level of care provided by PoSGH.”

The letter said the attorneys have also been approached by other people with claims of medical negligence and their incidents would possibly be added to the lawsuit.

They are requesting full disclosure of the number of babies who have died at the hospital from January 1 to present.

“Our clients have expressed grave concern about the integrity of the medical notes and records for the mothers and their babies as they have been requesting same and these documents are yet to be provided to them. They are troubled by the bureaucratic stonewalling and continuing failure and/or refusal to provide these critical documents.”

They asked for the records to be e-mailed to them by no later than April 15 at 4 pm.

The attorneys said they intended to seek aggravated and exemplary damages for the arbitrary and oppressive conduct of the staff at the hospital. They said the NWRHA breached its duty to disclose the fact that six other babies had died at the NICU and in close proximity to each other to Raymond-Adams.

Anand Ramlogan –

They said their clients had been contacted over the weekend and invited to attend a meeting with top NWRHA officials without being told the purpose of the meeting, who would be there, and what was on the agenda.

The letter gave instructions on behalf of Kae’ Jhene Kerniah Charles (deceased) by her mother, Raymond-Adams, of Soriah Trace, Brazil Village, Arima.

Kae’ Jhene was born on April 1 and placed in the NICU. Her health began deteriorating on April 3 and she died on April 6. Her African name means “God’s gracious gift.”

The baby’s death certificate confirms “gram-negative bacilli septicemia as one of the causes of death.”

The letter said “the attitude of the staff was very casual, indifferent and secretive as they appeared reluctant to disclose any information about our client’s baby.”

It said after the mother was discharged, she tried to get updates on the child, and was “told ‘all was well’ and that she should stop calling. The attitude of the nurse was unprofessional and hoggish…Whenever she tried to get proper medical intervention by having a doctor examine her baby the general attitude of the staff could be summed up in one loud ‘steups’ and ‘rolling eyes.’”

The letter said if no amicable solution was reached, they intended to seek general damages, special damages, aggravated damages, exemplary damages, interest, costs and any further order  the court may deem fit.

It said legal action would take place within seven days of April 12 if no response was received.

Raymond-Adams and the other parents are being represented by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, Sue Ann Deosaran and Sharon Ramnarine.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed the seven deaths during a statement in Parliament on April 12 and expressed condolences to the families. He said the office of the chief medical officer as well as the Caribbean Industrial Research Institute and the Pan-American Health Organisation were investigating the matter.