Death of young mother at Georgetown Hospital
Nurses to be sent warning letters - CEO Khan
Family dissatisfied with outcome

Thursday, November 6, 2003

The two nurses who were investigated over the death of 22-year-old Somatie Singh at the Georgetown Hospital are to be sent warning letters and will soon be back on the job.

Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, Michael Khan, said in a Government Information Agency (GINA) release yesterday, that the nurses would return to work following the receipt of warning letters. The nurses were sent on leave pending an investigation into the treatment of the young mother prior to her death.

The release said the “nurses’ performance will now be closely monitored and evaluated in the future.” They will be notified by the Human Resources Department of the hospital, which was responsible for making the final recommendation at the end of the investigation.

The young woman’s father, Ram Sankar, told Stabroek News last evening that he was not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation and threatened to take legal action against the hospital.

The father was called to the hospital yesterday, where he met Khan, Director of Medical and Professional Services, Dr Madan Rambarran, and a third person.

According to the GINA release, Khan said that although everyone would not be pleased with the outcome, the family generally accepted it.

When Stabroek News contacted the family last evening Sankar said that his wife took the news of the outcome of the investigation very hard and has once again gone into a state of mourning.

The man said that he was still not clear about the treatment his daughter received during her stay at the hospital and questioned the attitude of nurses on the day of his daughter’s death.

Following the woman’s death, Dr Rambarran had told reporters that the patient had a severe heart problem - pulmonary hypertension, “which we believe is not curable except probably by some heart and lung transplant. The clinical opinion was that her prognosis was always weak.”

Singh’s father said that he was told the exact thing yesterday and he again questioned why the woman’s relatives were not informed of her serious illness. He said the impression the family got was that the woman had some minor complication following the birth of her son, who also subsequently died.

He said that it was only after his daughter died that they were told of the seriousness of her illness.

The man pointed out that if his daughter was that ill then there was a stronger case against the two nurses following the treatment they meted out to the young mother. He said if the nurses were not aware of the woman’s condition, then the doctors were to be blamed since they should have informed the nurses of the woman’s serious illness.

“Dem telling me that is just a little error dem nurses mek, but dem ent know that the day meh watch how deh treat me daughter. Is like watching somebody taking a cow to the slaughter house to kill it,” the man told Stabroek News.

According to the man, at the meeting yesterday he was told that one of the nurses was just a nursing assistant and the other was a midwife.

“Now dah mek me more upset. If me daughter bin a so sick how come deh ent had no real train nurse [registered nurse]?” the man questioned. “I am not satisfy at all with the way this thing handle. And now me wife just crying.”

The GINA release said that the hospital views the incident “as tragic and regrettable.”

On the day the woman died, her relatives had reported that during their visit, the young woman said she wanted to urinate but a request by the relatives to the nurse on duty for a bed pan was denied, since the nurse said that during visiting hours bed pans were not allowed. After the woman complained that she was in pain because she was not being allowed to urinate, the relatives said they suggested to the nurse that they would form a human shield to allow her to use the bed pan, or lift her to the toilet themselves, but again the nurse had refused.

The woman’s mother had said that her daughter started to cry out for pain and it was then that a nursing-assistant approached the bed and told her daughter that she would have had to walk to the bathroom. When her daughter told her she could not walk the nursing-assistant reportedly told that she was playing a trick.

“She tell me baby how she playing trick and how she could very well walk because she motha gat a heart problem so she know. But me baby couldn’t walk, she tek off the oxygen mask and almost pull me baby to the floor so she could walk. Me baby start to breath hard and she could nah walk and she lean on she [the nursing assistant] and me run to the next side a she and hold she up...”

Sankar had said her daughter’s feet were practically dragging on the floor as she half-lifted her to the bathroom where she was placed to sit down on the toilet bowl. But she was unable to sit up and fell forward hitting her head on the wall of the toilet.

It was at that point that another nurse rushed to the toilet and pushed the woman’s mother out of the room telling her she did not know anything.

“...dem two tell she fo get up and walk and stop playing trick. Dem tell she ‘Somatie get up. Wah you behaving so because you family deh hey?’ but me baby just deh and she eye rolling up and I tell dem that deh go kill meh pickney.”

The woman said that with some assistance from her husband the nurse hurriedly got her daughter back to the bed and attempted to place the oxygen mask on her face.

“But den when deh put she on dah bed she just mek one big breath and she dead. Deh kill me daughter. She jus start life and she never even use to talk hard and now meh baby gone,” the woman cried. She said after it was apparent her daughter was dead the nurses put the family out and called for the doctors who rushed to the patient. “Dem doctor hug me up when meh tell dem how dem two kill meh daughter. And den when me daughter done dead the one in the pink [the nursing assistant] start fo cry shaking she hand and jumping up in a corner. Me tell she `wah you crying for now when you done kill me child’”, the woman had told Stabroek News.

(Samantha Alleyne)