‘BRING IN THE POLICE'
By JULIEN NEAVES Monday, March 10 2014
EVEN as it was announced yesterday that independent investigation will be conducted into the botched Caesarian-section surgery which resulted in the death of a seven-month-old male foetus, the angry mother is demanding that the police get involved to investigate the doctor at the centre of the incident.
Quelly Ann Cottle, 38, from Enterprise, Chaguanas lost her son Simeon on Carnival Saturday at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital after the baby’s head was cut during a C-section performed by a junior specialist. The specialist was subsequently sent on suspension with full pay.
Speaking yesterday to Newsday Cottle said, “I don’t think this should be considered merely as a loss. This was not like somebody who didn’t know what they were doing. I consider this a murder and not only a loss.”
The North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) has conducted an internal investigation and an independent investigation is to be conducted as well, well placed sources told Newsday. Both Cottle and her husband Emil Millington, are calling on the police to investigate the incident.
“If you are not supposed to be doing something and you went in and do it anyway, shouldn’t you be held accountable for what you did? Because if I go to his (the doctor) home and buss his head open I will be held as I would have committed murder. They are not going to send me home with pay.
“They are going to lock me up! They are not going to tell me, ‘go home and sit down on your backside until we decide what to do with you’,” the emotional woman said. Contacted for comment, Acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams told Newsday he is not privy to details of the case but is aware there was an investigation ongoing at the level of the Regional Health Authority.
Williams however was quick to point out that if the parents do make a formal report to the police, officers will have to investigate in order to ascertain whether any criminal offence was committed.
Speaking about the independent investigation, Cottle said she wants someone to be held accountable at the end of the day. “They need to be more vigilant about who they bring in to the health sector,” she said. Millington said he feels that officials are “dragging their feet” with the investigation.
“I think the police should become involved because I am hearing there were three consultants and none was available yet still the operation was performed,” Millington said. “Nobody seems to really be able to give answers on what really happened. Perhaps if the police got involved, answers may be given,” he said.
There are two consultants within the unit who would normally supervise a C-section procedure but at the time, Newsday was told, one consultant was on leave while the other was not present at the time of the C-section.
Millington said he supports an independent investigation but wants it to be headed by a foreign health expert so as to ensure nothing is covered up. “Get someone from outside who would really be neutral,” he insisted. Both Millington and Cottle yesterday said they are giving serious and careful consideration to making a formal report to the police.
Millington noted that Cottle has been experiencing “post traumatic stress” and has agreed to undergo counselling sessions offered by the NCRHA. “For me I don’t need any counselling. I need an anger management course. I need to be able to control me,” Millington said.
He noted that his wife, who returned home on Saturday, is experiencing some pains in her body.
“I had to take management of the kitchen yesterday (Saturday),” he joked. Millington noted that along with justice for his son, he would like to see the medical system improved.
“I would like to know what made this doctor feel okay to perform such an operation with no consultant present,” Millington said.
Millington said that despite the pain and trauma, he sees a bright side to the tragic incident.
“I feel a little bit of joy seeing that the purpose of the child was to bring these issues to the forefront so that hopefully, things can be put in place to prevent another parent from going through what I and my wife are going through right now,” he said.
North Central Regional Health Authority (NCRHA) chairman Dr Shehenaz Mohammed yesterday said an internal follow-up report was completed and was to be submitted to Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan via e-mail last night and today in hard copy format. She explained that this report is based upon information gathered from all members of staff involved in the incident.
She noted that the official preliminary report and preliminary autopsy findings were presented to her and Dr Khan last Friday.
The follow-up report, she explained, is a more in depth analysis of the clinical management from the time Cottle was admitted to when she was discharged and is an assessment of the report submitted by all the individuals involved in the management of the case which include the medical team, nursing team, lab technicians, anesthetic team and the paediatric team.
Mohammed noted that in addition to a follow-up report a “route cause analysis” is usually done but not in this case because an external independent investigation is underway.
“Due to the gravity of the situation, the (NCRHA) board and minister have agreed that we need an independent inquiry into the management of this particular patient,” Mohammed said.
Mohammed explained that the Health Ministry together with Chief Medical Officer Dr Akenath Misir will determine the composition of the independent investigative team, which must be an expert senior panel.
She also pointed out that the Ministry of Health policy states that for all high risk pregnancies consultants are mandated to be in attendance in the operating theatre and are supposed to perform the C-section.
“My hands as a chairman and the Minister’s hands are tied because of the fact that they (the consultants in question) are employed by the University of the West Indies,” Mohammed said.
She reported that on Friday morning a letter was sent to the Dean of the Faculty of Medical Sciences, which operates from out of the EWMSC, advising him that the situation involves university lecturers and for him to ensure they (the lecturers) cooperate with the investigation.
Mohammed expressed hope that because UWI is one of the major stakeholders, the university or Tertiary Education Minister Fazal Karim would intervene to assist the Health Minister and the NCRHA.
She noted at Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex there is a high absenteeism of nurses which is “currently being dealt with” and at Mt Hope Women’s Hospital there is a high absenteeism rate of consultants.