Expectant parents question hospital, obstetrician’s judgement, endure insensitivity amid tragic loss
WESTERN BUREAU: A St James couple is accusing both their private obstetrician and the public hospital staff of causing the death of their baby boy, who was scheduled to be born on April 11. Further, 33-year-old Lishae Brown and 51-year-old Lawford...
A St James couple is accusing both their private obstetrician and the public hospital staff of causing the death of their baby boy, who was scheduled to be born on April 11.
Further, 33-year-old Lishae Brown and 51-year-old Lawford Scarlett are bemoaning what they deemed to be insensitive treatment meted out by staff of the Cornwall Regional Hospital (CRH) in Brown’s moment of great distress as the traumatic events unfolded.
Their nightmare started on April 12, a day after the projected due date, when the couple went to the CRH in Montego Bay, St James, after Brown began experiencing excruciating pain. Doctors reportedly told them, however, that the baby was not ready for delivery.
Although the expectant mom asked to be admitted and suggested they induce her, a nurse reportedly told her that, because she had been seeing a private doctor, they didn’t know enough about her pregnancy to induce her.
She told The Gleaner that she was instructed to return on April 19, despite exhibiting signs of being in labour.
Brown said that she had explained to the medical staff that, when she gave birth to her first child, she had to be induced, but she returned home believing that they knew what they were doing.
By the next day, she could not sit because of the crippling pain that was in her abdomen.
Concerned, she then visited her obstetrician, who after examining her, also told her to wait until April 19 to return to the hospital.
“Usually, I would attend the clinic at the hospital in the last three months of my pregnancy, but, because of COVID-19 and the reduction in service, I continued with the private doctor,” a distressed Brown said.
On April 16, her common-law husband rushed her to the hospital again, as she could no longer feel the foetus moving.
Brown said that, after a doctor delivered the dreaded confirmation that her baby had died, the shock and pain caused her throat to become constricted.
Unable to speak, she decided to write her responses to questions from the maternity ward nurse, who reportedly showed no compassion.
“The nurse said, ‘If you can’t answer me, pick up your stuff and go’,” Brown told The Gleaner, explaining how the nurse failed to comprehend how devastated she was as she sat there with the stillborn child inside her. “She said, ‘I can’t receive you on the ward if you can’t speak so I can hear you’.”
The distressed woman said she started to speak and was admitted so the baby could be taken from her.
Her nightmare would only get worse, she said, as, after being admitted, she got no assistance to use the bathroom and could not get the nurses to check her dilation level.
NO HELP FROM NURSES
In fact, she said that, gripped by the fear of having to flush her stillborn son down the toilet, she was forced to wet herself within the first two hours on the ward as the bedpan was placed far from her and the restroom was even further.
“Every time I felt as if something was happening, I had to leave the bed and go find the nurse to find out how dilated I was. When I finally felt that the baby was coming and knocked on one of the doors, they started cursing, saying I was knocking on the wrong door,” she recalled.
Brown said that, by the time the nurse realised the baby was coming, she had to be pushed into the delivery room and told to close her legs as the baby began to emerge while entering the room.
“Our private doctor let us down big time and collected money from us up to the Wednesday, and – up to today (day of the interview) – has not checked to find out if the baby is dead or alive,” the couple lamented.
Brown said that she was anxious to leave the hospital the next day, as there was no water on the ward.
The comments by the maternity ward nurses also didn’t make it better.
“They said I could try again in six or seven months,” Brown told our news team.
Scarlett, a father of two, is even more upset, stating this child was meant to be his last, adding that he does not want another couple to have the same traumatic experience.
“ ... This feels like a Jodian Fearon all over again,” he said, referencing a first-time mom who died in 2020 of heart failure, exacerbated by last-minute stress at the University Hospital of the West Indies, compounded by limited medical attention at two other facilities.
Expressing condolences, CRH Senior Medical Officer Dr Derek Harvey is inviting the couple to make a formal complaint, reserving comments on the particular case as he was unfamiliar with it.
Concerned that they could have been turned away after their initial visit if facing an emergency, he noted that, once accessed, any person who is deemed to have a medical problem should receive attention at the public hospital.
“No patient should be turned away,” he stressed to The Gleaner, although adding that he was aware that there were staff within the facility with different interpretations.
Harvey admitted that there are days when the staff may be overwhelmed and make a judgement call on what seems urgent.
He further explained that a team of consultant obstetricians should assess pregnant patients before deciding whether it is necessary for the expectant mother to go into spontaneous labour or if they would induce delivery.
Harvey was shocked by claims that Brown could seldom get assistance while admitted, explaining that this was not the norm as there are persons “such as patient care assistants, ... registered nurses and midwives on the ward”, whose duty it is to give the necessary attention.