My child was left to die


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Category: Health Care Date: 05 Aug 01

Last July, I ran a seven-part series on the lack of accountability by medical doctors to their patients. The series was based on numerous accounts by patients, and insensitive doctors who had clear conflicts of interests, and charged exorbitant fees. Then there were the stories of clear malpractice and death by negligence.


Then, the fraternity, instead of disciplining errant doctors, closed ranks. I wrote detailed letters to the Medical Board and Medical Association, with a Patients’ Bill of Rights and copied to the Minister of Health with questions and suggestions geared towards providing dissatisfied patients with recourse. Twelve months later, I am still waiting for a response from the medical fraternity.


This new series is based on testimonials by people who feel their loved ones would be alive today if doctors did their jobs and were held accountable.


Following is a testimonial by a mother whose baby died in the Mount Hope Pediatric Unit this year:


“My two year old baby, Amanda, woke up at two in the morning, roasting with fever, and vomiting. I took her to my pediatrician, who said she had a slight lung infection, and prescribed antibiotics, and a cool bath.

“Two days later, she seemed to be getting worse and her pediatrician told us over the phone to take her to Mount Hope. The doctor there confirmed she had an infection, asked us to continue the antibiotics and sent us home.

“That Sunday I left her with my mother for the day, and when I returned, I was told she and my baby were at Mount Hope. I will never forget the sight of my child - you could tell she was in distress. Her body was swollen. She had been waiting with my mother for seven hours.

“By the time the doctor saw her, she needed oxygen. He said she had pneumonia, and fluid in her lungs. One lung had already collapsed. He said they were going to drain the fluid from her lungs, and they were going to do an x-ray. They did neither and only gave her oxygen and more antibiotics. She was vomiting green fluid. The doctor on duty brushed it off, saying ‘babies vomit all the time’. Instead, some interns came to see her.

“Nothing was done the next day, or the next, except an X-ray. The fluid was still in her lungs. By Wednesday she was worse. I told the doctor that her feet were cold. He said ‘don’t worry, rub her feet, put on socks.’

“She died on Thursday morning. She was breathing very fast that morning, said her chest was hurting, refusing breast milk, it hurt her even when I picked her up.

“I combed her hair, not knowing it was the last time. Her daddy removed her ear-rings because she wanted them off.

“Suddenly she got deathly white, and the monitor went off. All of a sudden we were surrounded with doctors, specialists. When both her lungs were already gone they were taking her to the intensive care unit. I heard the flat tone when her heart stopped three times, and then she was gone. She didn’t look like my beautiful girl.  There was a tube down her throat, fluid in her lungs. She bled through her eyes, ears, nose. She turned blue. I couldn’t look at her. They said they did all they could have done.

“The autopsy said she died of blood poisoning from pneumonia. What I learned from the internet was this: Once a child under three has a sudden onset of fever accompanied with cramps, the doctor should suspect pneumonia, and admit the baby to intensive care immediately where a blood test should be done to determine whether the pneumonia is caused by a bacteria or a virus. Viruses don’t respond to antibiotics. Amanda’s didn’t. The antibiotics were just making it worse. He said fluid in her lungs should have been removed, and since she couldn’t breathe, she should have been given oxygen. Amanda had to wait seven hours for oxygen.

“Her body was swelling because she was going into septic shock. Nobody suggested a blood transfusion until she was dying. The autopsy showed that her lungs were mashed up. And she bled to death.

“There is a vaccine that children three months and older can get to prevent pneumonia. My pediatrician didn’t tell me about it.

“I will never forget the sight of my baby, in serious distress, unable to breathe, not eating or drinking, bloating up, having to wait for seven hours to be admitted to the ward, being told she had to wait her turn. My child was left to die.

“My five year old hugs her doll and calls her Amanda. I put on my false face and go to work, but I hurt non-stop. My husband cries like a baby for her. Grandma is not the same.

“We are not supposed to bury our children. My healthy baby girl with dimples and energy died a painful death because they were negligent, and didn’t know what they were doing.

“The Health Minister was put into Mount Hope with chest pains and seen immediately. I wish him well, but there is one set of justice for the poor and another for the rich. I pay taxes and don’t get health care, but he does.

“I blame her pediatrician. I blame the doctors in the pediatric unit at Mount Hope - a place where they are supposed to specialise in children.

“I can’t sue them because doctors are not going to testify against doctors and I don’t have a couple of hundred thousand dollars to pay lawyers. I didn’t complain to the Medical Board because they say they have no power to discipline doctors.

“I can’t describe the pain of losing a child.”


Next week: A cancer patient is misdiagnosed.


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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur