Trinidad: Lawyers Find 8th Case Of Baby Death At PoSGH

(TT GUARDIAN) – Lawyers representing seven families, who have signalled their intention to pursue a class action lawsuit over the deaths of their babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital (POSGH), have identified an eighth potential family to add to their case.

The legal team led by Anand Ramlogan, SC, of Freedom Law Chambers, gave the update in correspondence yesterday to attorney Alana Bissessar, of Pollonais, Blanc, de la Bastide and Jacelon, which was retained to represent the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) in the matter.

In the letter, attorney Sue-Ann Deosaran provided details about Nandaranie Nathoo, whose son Jayden Pierre died at the hospital on March 16, a few weeks before the seven babies died over a four-day period.

Deosaran said Nathoo initially believed her baby’s death was not questionable based on claims by doctors but came forward after recent reports on the seven latest cases.

“Only upon Nandaranie hearing the news about other women facing similar tragedies as her, she has now grown concerned regarding the circumstances surrounding her baby’s death,” Deosaran said.

According to Deosaran, Pierre was born prematurely via caesarean section at the Sangre Grande Hospital on February 22 and was transferred to the PoSGH NICU.

She claimed doctors did not indicate any issues with the baby besides his premature birth until March 4, when Nathoo and the child’s father, Allister Pierre, were reportedly told the child had a bacterial infection in his blood and was being treated with antibiotics while laboratory testing was pending.

The couple was allegedly given positive updates regarding his condition before they were told the infection was still growing and a blood transfusion was needed on March 13.

“This was concerning to Jayden’s parents, and upon asking what the bacteria was, one of the doctors informed them that they were still running tests to figure it out, but once again reassured them that this was normal for premature babies,” Deosaran said.

Deosaran said the blood transfusion was performed on March 15. She claimed although the parents were told their baby’s condition was improving, the following day they were informed his condition was deteriorating. She claimed the parents were only allowed to see him but not hold him.

“Jayden appeared swollen and bruised, with discolouration on his hands, feet, face, and forehead. Seeing him in such a state, Jayden’s parents struggled to recognise their own child,” she said.

Deosaran claimed that he died several hours later, leaving the couple devastated and distraught, as Nathoo previously had a miscarriage.

“It was their first child, and they spared no effort in readying themselves for his homecoming: from purchasing clothes and a crib, to preparing his nursery by renovating an entire room in their home, every detail was meticulously planned,” she said.

Contacted by Guardian Media for a comment on the latest case identified by the lawyers, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh declined to do so, as he said the matter was being dealt with by the NWRHA’s legal team.

The seven other parents whose babies died have been identified as Shaniya Raymond-Adams, Sherise Moore-Beckles, Natasha Samuel, Shaquille Harry, Danyelle Samaroo, Tinelle Saunders and Jodie Molino.

Their legal team provided details of Raymond-Adams and Moore-Beckles’ cases in legal letters sent over the weekend. The circumstances of Samaroo’s case was detailed in a separate letter sent on Monday.

Separate letters are now expected to be sent on behalf of the remaining families, who will have to file separate cases before a judge decides whether they can be joined for the proposed class action lawsuit.

In the four cases for which details have already been provided, one major common factor was that blood transfusions were performed before the babies died.

In a letter sent to the families’ legal team yesterday, Bissessar acknowledged receipt of the legal letters sent on behalf of three of the families.

Bissessar claimed her client, as a “responsible healthcare provider”, was extremely concerned and deeply saddened by the deaths.

“Our client has prioritised this matter and is committed to expeditiously investigating this matter,” Bissessar said.

“Since this unfortunate incident occurred, our client has been engaging in a compassionate, timely, fair and reasonable manner with the parents of these babies,” she added.

Dealing with requests for disclosure of medical records, Bissessar claimed her client was in the process of making photocopies as they were not electronically stored. She also claimed that she was not in a position to immediately respond to the individual cases based on time constraints. However, she endeavoured to do so within a short time to avoid unnecessary expensive litigation.

Lastly, Bissessar sought to address complaints over alleged attempts by the NWRHA to meet with the families. A meeting was initially scheduled for yesterday but was subsequently cancelled due to objections from the lawyers.

While Bissessar agreed that discussions related to the issue would only be dealt with in their attorneys’ presence, she claimed the NWRHA’s medical social work officers would continue to speak to the families.

Deosaran sought to respond to Bissessar’s letter in the correspondence sent on behalf of Nathoo.

Addressing the conduct of the NWRHA, she suggested that the parents were all lied to about their babies’ conditions.

“The PoSGH tried to cover up the scale and magnitude of this unprecedented disaster that claimed the lives of seven innocent babies by treating each patient as though it was an isolated incident,” Deosaran said.

“The PoSGH was only galvanised into coming clean on this matter after the media exposed the fact that seven babies had died.”

Deosaran also questioned the lack of digital medical records, as she claimed the families are concerned the records will be manipulated before disclosure.

“A manual system would obviously be easier to manipulate by providing easy access to medical notes that can be doctored or falsified,” she said.

“If the NWRHA is as concerned for their well-being and safety as it claims, basic human decency, logic and common sense dictates that these medical notes and records should be copied, scanned and emailed to us within 24 hours.”

Deosaran also said her clients were no longer interested in counselling provided by the NWRHA, as they are fearful confidential communication will be twisted and manipulated.

She also suggested that the NWRHA provide financial assistance for private counselling and hire an independent medical expert in infectious diseases to look into their cases.