September 25, 2016

Mother of injured infant contemplating legal action against GPHC

…medical personnel should have been prepared before third stage of delivery – says CMO

nyesha Hamilton was dilating quickly; one moment she could almost feel the baby pushing its way out of her birth canal and the other moment she was picking up a newborn that just cracked his skull on the Georgetown Public Hospital floor after falling out of her.

nyesha hamilton

nyesha hamilton

This incident which occurred on August 21, sparked renewed concerns about the prenatal and postnatal care at the hospital. Coupled with this, Hamilton recalled that the nurses were rude to her when she asked for assistance.

In an interview with Guyana Times, Hamilton said she arrived at the hospital around 22:00h. She said she was examined by two doctors and both of them gave conflicting responses about how fast she was dilating.

“One doctor said I was four cm apart and other doctor said I was five cm apart,” she said, recalling that she was taken into the prenatal room. Minutes later, her contractions grew stronger and she started to call for the nurses to re-examine her because “I felt like the baby was coming down”.

Unfortunately, her pleas fell on deaf ears and she said the nurse responded by stating that she was just checked and would have to wait four hours before another examination. However, the baby would not wait and soon after she was bleeding and the labour pains were becoming stronger and the contractions more frequent.

“I called on the midwife and I told her that the baby is coming and she told me that there aren’t any wheelchairs to take me to the labour room so we had to walk there. While I was walking I started to feel like I can’t go any further and I stoop down and before I could catch him, the baby fall through my underwear and onto the ground,” she recounted, noting that it was then she was placed in a wheelchair.

“When the bay fall, the nurses panicked and they didn’t want to pick him up and they tell me to,” she said.

Hamilton said medical personnel working that night did nothing to ensure that the baby was unhurt. “They pretended that it was a normal delivery and send me to the Maternity Ward but the next day his head started to swell and then they decided to carry him for a CAT scan,” she lamented.

The young mother stated that it was then she found out that her baby’s skull was fractured and that there was external bleeding above the skull.

However, the specialist who examined the baby said he would not have any long-term effects from the fall and that he would heal as he grew. Contrarily, the baby started to vomit and was removed from the maternity unit to the Paediatric Unit for 13 days. He is scheduled for a visit with a neuro-surgeon on October 3.

“I am thinking about going and find a lawyer to help me because I don’t know what to do. One time they are telling me Ricardo has internal bleeding and the next they are saying it is external,” the mother said.

Hamilton said she would seek legal advice to ensure that all medical expenses are covered by the hospital. “I don’t know what is going to happen to my son later in life. If he would be okay or he wouldn’t. But things like this shouldn’t be allowed to happen at a hospital,” she argued.

Public Health Minister, Dr George Norton has stated that it was a common practice to have pregnant women walk in order to widen the birth canal in the third stage of delivery. However, he said there was mismanagement and that wheelchairs were available but one was not given to Hamilton in time.

Addressing the issue, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud stated that all trained personnel should have been prepared before the woman reached the third stage of delivery. Persaud confirmed that he has received the preliminary report which indicated that the mother went into the hospital and was examined. It noted that she went into the third stage of labour and before she could have been taken to the labour room, she delivered. The final report, he said, has not yet been released.

“I still have to get the final assessment of why she went into labour and was not in the labour room because usually at that time, we expect that they are well prepared and ready to deliver… By the time the third stage is ready, she should have been in the right position and the equipment should be in place, sterility observed and a trained personnel to deliver the baby,” he pointed out.

On November 3, 2015, the Georgetown Public Hospital was placed in the spot light after a newborn fell off a cot and fractured his skull. It was just an hour after he was born. The infant’s parents sued the hospital for $20 million for the error. The Minister had reportedly stated that the newborn baby rolled off the cot. That matter is still pending.

When questioned as to why the hospital is always in the “bad light” for maternal mortality, or infant mortality and injures during labour, Persaud stated that it is a “human resource problem”.

“We are facing a human resource problem and definitely there are shortages of midwives. We have tried to encourage some of the midwives who are in primary healthcare, especially those at health centres, to provide relief. This may be the largest challenge; however, we are working on it,” he responded.

He stated that they have been working with the Obstetrics Unit, especially the specialists to look back at the protocol and revise them to ensure that they are up-to-date with the challenges of delivery.

So far, the Public Health Ministry has announced that infant mortality in Guyana has been cut in half within the last eight months. However, Persaud stated that maternal and infant mortality would peak in September and October.