Mourning mom slams nurses’ treatment of ‘one of their own’ — ‘Hoggish conduct at NICU’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Natasha Samuel

A 42-year-old nurse who is the mother of one of the babies who died in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) has not minced her words about her “hoggish” colleagues.

In an 11-page pre-action letter, attorney Sue Ann Deosaran recalled the “nightmarish experience” of Natasha Samuel as a patient of the facility.

Samuel, of D’Abadie, is the mother of Skiye Samuel, who was born on March 13 and died on April 9.

The letter said the experience had caused Samuel to realise the public’s account of some staff members’ hoggish and unprofessional behaviour is meritorious and true.

“There was no professional courtesy given to her as ‘one of their own,’ so she shudders to think what ordinary members of the public would have to endure,” the letter said.

“Instead, she experienced the raw and ugly reality of the incompetence and irresponsible, ignorant, and unprofessional attitude of the medical staff.”

Attorneys from Freedom Law chambers, led by former attorney general Anand Ramlogan, SC, issued a pre-action protocol dated April 19 and addressed to the CEO of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA).

She had been working at the hospital for the past nine years.

“This was our client’s last attempt to have a child as she is 42 years old. She also underwent tubal ligation (having her tubes) tied after her baby was delivered via C-section. This loss has therefore had a devastating impact on her,” the letter added.

At least 11 babies were reported to have fallen ill with bacterial infections while in the NICU and subsequently died. Several other families have taken legal action.The NWRHA has since said only seven of the babies’ deaths were due to the “cluster” of bacterial infections.

The attorney gave a synopsis of what transpired leading up to Skiye’s death.

Deosaran said the baby was placed in the NICU for observation, having been born at 32 weeks. Doctors indicated that the baby was doing well and progressing nicely.

On March 23, the baby received a blood transfusion, which the doctor said was normal in pre-term babies.

On April 5, the baby was still coping nicely, and the mother left the hospital feeling very happy that her baby was doing well and would be able to go home soon.

By April 6, Samuel received a call from the hospital informing her that the baby was moved to the step-down part of the NICU.

However, her pulse rate was racing, and she also had a low-grade fever.

Samuel was asked to buy a blood filter for $800 because the baby needed a blood transfusion and the hospital did not have any.

When Samuel visited the unit the next day, she was alarmed to find that many of the babies were no longer there.

When she inquired from the nurses, they said the babies had gotten better and went home with their parents.

The letter claimed Samuel now knows that to be a blatant lie as many of those babies had died.

On April 8, Samuel received a call from the hospital telling her that her baby was not doing well.

At about 2 am on April 9, Samuel got a phone call from the hospital telling her to visit immediately.

While on her way, she prayed and prayed. When she arrived, she was told that the baby died at 3 am and that the cause of the death was sepsis.

“Our client said she felt broken, deceived, and betrayed. She said she knew it was not sepsis because she had overheard the nurses saying that there were bacteria and that the innocent babies had been infected,” the letter said.

Newsday obtained copies of two death certificates dated April 19 at PoSGH of Skiye. The first listed the cause of death as pulmonary haemorrhage owing to sepsis owing to prematurity.

The revised certificate listed the cause of death as owing to pulmonary haemorrhage owing to presumed sepsis due to prematurity extremely low birth rate. The word “presumed” had been inserted into the revised version.

The legal letter also spoke about outstanding medical notes and records, saying medical records have been provided for two other babies from the unit.

The law firm is claiming medical negligence on the part of the staff and or agents of the NWRHA.

The NWRHA allegedly permitted another baby with a serious infection to be admitted without taking the necessary precautions to manage and minimise the risk of infection and transmission to other babies in the NICU.

The firm also contended that NWRHA failed to provide a clean, safe, and sanitised environment in the NICU and failed to take the necessary steps to ensure that the unit was bacteria-free, knowing that only high-risk babies were admitted there.

The firm also contended that the authority failed to properly adhere to and maintain industry standards of a NICU unit and failed to recognise that a baby with an infection was in the NICU.

The firm further contended that the authority failed in all circumstances to protect a delicate newborn baby and failed in all circumstances to prevent Skiye’s death.

The firm is seeking general, special, aggravated and exemplary damages, interest, costs and any further order that the court deems fit.