Mon | Sep 25, 2017

What SERHA said about dead babies at VJH

Published:Tuesday | November 1, 2016 | 11:00 AM
Dr Orville Morgan

The following is a joint statement from chairman of the South East Regional Health Authority (SERHA), Philip Armstrong, and Dr Orville Morgan, senior medical officer of the Victoria Jubilee Hospital (VJH), regarding reports of the deaths of babies at the VJH.

The Sunday Gleaner article published on October 30, 2016 under the headline 'Somebody lied, 26 babies died' is irresponsible, inaccurate and an absolute misrepresentation. Furthermore, the article seeks to undermine the integrity of the Ministry of Health, the committee formed to investigate the cluster cases of Group B streptococcus (GBS)-related deaths and health-care professionals at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital.

The committee report, which was issued to the media and posted online, fully disclosed the following facts:

n Monthly neonatal deaths between the period January-September 2016, which showed 29 neonatal deaths between the months of August-September 2016 (page 8).

- Of the 29 neonatal deaths, four were confirmed to be death by GBS infection (page 1).

To further explain the deaths over the July-September 2016 period, note below:

 

July 2016

 

- 578 live births.

- 12 neonates died.

Causes of death for 12 neonates, determined by the medical team, were as follows:

- Eleven complications of prematurity.

- One congenital heart disease.

- None of these deaths were confirmed as a result of GBS or conditions within the hospital.

 

August 2016

 

- 652 live births.

- 11 neonates died.

Causes of death for 11 neonates, determined by the medical team, were as follows:

- Three complications of birth related to no oxygen flow to the brain.

- One born without a brain.

- Seven complications of prematurity.

- None of these deaths were confirmed as a result of GBS or conditions within the hospital.

 

September 2016

 

- 745 live births.

- 18 neonates died.

Cause of death for 18 neonates, determined by the medical team, were as follows:

- Four directly related to GBS.

-Ten complications of prematurity.

- One congenital abnormality.

- One severe respiratory complication.

The above stated facts from the report issued by the committee established by the Ministry of Health clearly show that while 29 neonates lost their lives between August and September 2016, four were directly related to GBS and not the suggested 26 in the mentioned article.

While we understand that there are many challenges within the health sector, we continue to aim for high standards and are committed to having a fully transparent process in all cases. All lives are important, and as such, all neonatal deaths are investigated.

By way of this response, we want to also urge and encourage all journalists to thoroughly investigate matters before publishing, as it sends the wrong signal and further contributes to the undermining of the health sector. Furthermore, it is irresponsible and unfair to the professionals within the health sector who continue to work under challenging circumstances.

We will always be open to discussion on matters of public interest.