Ramlogan responds to PAHO report: NWRHA heads must roll

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Anand Ramlogan –

ATTORNEY Anand Ramlogan said on June 28 “heads must roll,” in his response to the PAHO report on conditions at Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) after the deaths of several babies at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in April.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh had laid the report in the House of Representatives earlier.

Ramlogan urged the chairman and the board of the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) be immediately fired and disciplinary action be taken against those responsible for the babies’ deaths.

Newsday tried but was unable to contact NWRHA CEO Anthony Blake.

Ramlogan said, “The Minister of Health should hold his head in shame over the fake, rosy picture he has been painting in the midst of his self-congratulatory praises, chest thumping and pats on the back from his colleagues about the excellent job he is doing.”

Ramlogan suspected the report would go the way of the Paria commission of inquiry where he said no action had been taken against the culpable and no compensation was paid to victims’ families.

“We call upon the Government to instruct the board of the NWRHA to admit liability for medical negligence for the death of these babies and to engage in meaningful discussions with a view to compensating the bereaved mothers.

“Anything less will simply confirm that this investigation was a political charade that was designed to take the political heat away from the Government, do political damage control, and was nothing more than a deadly Deyalsingh political dance.”

Ramlogan lamented PAHO had not interviewed the grieving mothers, but said the report had still unearthed the tragedy of errors in the negligent care of the babies.

He said the report said the babies were not given a caring and nurturing environment, and so had not had a genuine chance at life.

“The extent of the systemic failure and shortcomings identified in the report reveals a significant pattern of horror stories that led to the untimely and tragic death of these babies.

“It has ripped the plaster off the sore that is our public health-care system and exposes the harsh and ugly reality that the public experiences and knows only too well.”

Ramlogan claimed the report unveiled several alarming findings, including seven confirmed deaths from April 2-9, with an average of four-eight deaths per month.

He lamented “significant shortcomings in governance and clinical practice” at the hospital, with compliance levels for care in one aspect being as low as 29 per cent.

“There were no personnel responsible for Infection Prevention Control at a high level within the PoSGH.”

No internal quality assessment was conducted, he added

“There was no active surveillance for blood-stream infections.

“There was no policy for certain invasive clinical procedures such as central line insertion.”

The NICU was completely understaffed, with an inadequate ratio of nursing staff to babies, he said.

“Medications were not prepared in a sterile environment.

“There were no policies in place for high-level disinfection of equipment such as laryngoscopes.”

Ramlogan said the bed spacing within the NICU was too close.

“There were limited hands-free hand rub dispensers in the NICU.

“There were breaches in PPE protocols in the NICU.”