Fri | Aug 17, 2018

Report on dead babies misguided

Published:Thursday | October 20, 2016 | 12:00 AM


I am appalled at the broad-brush approach that the Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry employed in her investigations into the deaths of eight premature babies at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI), following the Klebsiella and Serratia outbreaks in June, 2013.

In her report that was released on October 14, Henry said: "There was no outbreak at the Neonatal Unit between June and October 2015. That which transpired was not unusual and the infectious happenings were part of the hazards of low birth weight, undeveloped organs and immune systems and the hospital environment."

She summarised her findings by stating: "The premature babies, who were particularly susceptible to infections, became the unfortunate victims of an under-resourced medical facility," and that it "appears from the evidence that the concept of an outbreak was purely a media creation."

In her wisdom, it was prudent to chide the media and investigate the hospital staff, but failed to consider the statements of the UHWI's then CEO Dr Trevor McCartney, which spoke to the troubling resource inadequacies. It is no secret that the hospitals country-wide are woefully under-resourced and poorly managed.

The report is simply not worth the paper it was written on.

What was the objective of her investigation; to absolve the concerned officials of the extensive damage and suffering that they caused to the parents of these dead babies resulting from their own mismanagement? Did she expect that the concerned staff would incriminate themselves?

More importantly, was independent scientific evidence sought?


Pure negligence


Negligence was demonstrated and the hospital staff must be held civilly liable. Henry failed to incorporate the evidence of the parents; that which was supplied by the ministry's technocrats; or any independent scientific evidence, which I believe was relevant and substantial to the case.

It is only fitting to circumvent this controversial matter before a High Court judge who is objective, balanced, who possess critical reasoning skills and who pays attention to detail; characteristics which Henry lacked in her determination of this matter.

What about the dead babies at the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH), or has she applied her generic (anecdotal) approach to those individual cases as well?

Henry's wanting investigation and misguided determination are damaging to the integrity of her office; it must be vigorously reviewed and challenged.