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Parents call for probe of son’s death at South hospital

By Vashtee Achibar Wednesday, March 19 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Matheu Flament ...
Matheu Flament ...

The grieving parents of a 35-year-old man who died four days after being warded at San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) for an ulcer on his foot are calling for an investigation into the cause of his death.

Matheu Flament, an employee of the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT ) for over 12 years, died at the hospital on January 29.

His parents Lawrence and Nola Flament, of 30 Woodpecker Lane, Pleasantville are adamant they must get proper answers as to how their otherwise healthy son died.

They said they were notified about Matheu’s death close to two hours after he died and were refused permission to view the autopsy.

They said Matheu’s life could have been saved were it not for a “tragedy of errors” which included the “sloppy, delayed, mis-diagnosed and under-managed nursing and medical care he received at the hospital.”

They say it is their prayer that their fight for Matheu “will benefit every patient and family member who pass through the hands of doctors and nurses and other personnel at SFGH, who has died or suffered serious complications while at the hospital.”

Nola, who retired as a nurse after 32 years at SFGH, insisted her fight is “not about publicity, or revenge but about total patient care for every patient who enters the SFGH from this day forward.” She said as a nurse she “went beyond the call of duty for patients under her care and it was painful” for her to see the way in which doctors and nurses treated her son. She said the lack of common courtesy and kindness shocked her.

Lawrence said although their son was ill he was still a healthy person with his life ahead of him. “My son was a diabetic but he was not sickly. He had an ulcer in his left foot that was giving him trouble and we decided to call the family doctor to ask him if we should take him to a private nursing home. He told us it was a minor problem and we should seek treatment at the hospital,” he said.

The Flaments’ troubles began on the morning of Sunday, January 26, when Matheu complained about a pain in his left leg. He was unable to walk. At the hospital, his blood pressure was tested. Matheu was then told he had to wait to see a doctor. Lawrence said shortly after his son vomitted and he had to help clean him up. It would take some 18 hours for Matheu to be finally admitted to ward 6. The Flaments said the treatment meted out to their son over the next three days left very much to be desired. Nola said at times he would call her at home to say he needed assistance to go to the bathroom. She said there was very little interaction or information from medical staff as well.

On the morning of Wednesday January 29, the Flaments received a call around 6.30 to visit the hospital urgently. On arrival they learned their son had died since 5 am. The family would later be told they could not witness the post-mortem.

The death certificate listed cause of death as “sepsis bilateral broncho pneumonia, left lower limb infected ulcer, type 1 diabetes mellitus.”

SFGH medical director Dr Anand Chatoorgoon yesterday said he is aware of the case. He said the Quality Department has ben liaising with the parents and they are in the process of providing them with certain information regarding their son’s death. He said the department is awaiting a report from the nursing department as well as other medical departments and the Flaments would be contacted soon.

Chief executive officer of the South West Regional Health Authority Anil Gosine also confirmed an investigation is underway and the nurses are compiling a report. He said the Flaments requested certain information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and as soon as the report is completed they will be called to a meeting.

The Flaments said under the FOIA they want the names of all the medical personnel who interacted with their son during his stay at the SFGH.

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