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AG wants Medical Complaints Council

By CAROL MATROO Saturday, April 26 2014

ATTORNEY General Anand Ramlogan is considering establishing a Medical Complaints Council, similar to the one in England, where patients and their families can have their concerns addressed.

The AG made the announcement at a news conference at Cabildo Chambers, St Vincent Street, Port-of-Spain yesterday as he formally presented the three-member committee appointed to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of baby Simeon.

The committee comprises consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist of the University College of London Hospitals, Dr Melanie Clare Davies, who arrived in the country on Wednesday night, Dr Petronella Manning-Alleyne, neonatologist and former head of the Neonatal Unit at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital and retired Appeal Court judge Mustapha Ibrahim.

The baby lived for five hours after being delivered from his mother Quelly-Ann Cottle, during a Caesarian-section at the Mt Hope Women’s Hospital, on March 1. He suffered a laceration to the head while being delivered, and as an autopsy would later show, bled to death.

The baby’s mother Quelly-Ann Cottle and father Emil Millington have been pleading for the authorities to explain why their baby died in this manner.

When questioned about medical issues being needed to be addressed, the AG said he requested that baby Simeon’s case be handled sensitively because of his struggles in dealing with similar cases as an attorney.

Ramlogan felt that legal council would not be able to competently deal with a medical issue when they did not have the knowledge of the facts.

“In addition of the significant evidential hurdles that we face, we also have to face the fact that the layman’s understanding of the law of medicine is very skewed, because it is an inherent part of the law that errors would occur because it is not a precise and exact science.

“That is why the Medical Complaints Council in England is something I am prepared to consider because the question of no-fault-based-compensation is something that has assisted greatly. When you have a no-fault-based approach it sometimes brings closure to both parties, and allows the system to improve itself,” Ramlogan said.

Ramlogan said he requested that the inquiry be one that was “objective and hard hitting.” He also said that the committee should not be swayed by anything that they read in the newspapers. The story has been a prominent one since the baby died on March 1.

Ramlogan said while it was not impossible to charge a doctor for negligence, the evidence must be cogent and compelling to pursue a case. “You cannot fight a case for medical negligence without expert evidence to say there was negligence. There is a great reluctance on the part of doctors to testify against their colleagues. That has hampered the development of the law. “I hold no brief for anyone. When I receive that report, if there is any evidence to suggest that there is a basis for referring the matter to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions), I have no difficulty in doing that. For now I must respectfully allow the committee to not be inflamed by public passions.

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