A post mortem operation conducted yesterday on the remains of 37-year-old Stacy Peters at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation [GPHC] has ruled her cause of death as pulmonary thromboembolism.
This was in fact the condition that the woman was reportedly diagnosed with shortly before she passed away at Dr. Balwant Singh Hospital on Wednesday morning. The hospital is located on East Street, Georgetown.
Pulmonary embolism is a blockage in one of the pulmonary arteries in the lungs. In most cases, pulmonary embolism is caused by blood clots that travel to the lungs from the legs or, rarely, other parts of the body, in which case it is referred to as deep vein thrombosis.
Peters, of 1296 Central Amelia’s Ward, Linden had given birth, by way of a Caesarean Section [C-Section], to a baby girl at the private institution the previous day.
This condition after a caesarean section, according to Gynaecologist, Dr. Madhu Singh, is rare as it occurs three in every 1000 cases.
The hospital in response to the woman’s cause of death had informed that she was a high risk patient and experts went to great lengths to save her life.
According to information shared by Dr. Singh, not only was Peters a sickler [suffering from sickle cell anaemia] but she also had a reoccurrence of multiple large fibroids and thus had previous myomectomy [a surgical procedure to remove uterine fibroids].
Dr. Singh disclosed that because of Peters’ past issues, she was informed of the possibility of her womb being removed during surgery [C-Section]. “This was because of the previous myomectomy and she had huge fibroids again…Whenever a patient with such big fibroids has a caesarean, we may end up having to remove the womb in order to stop bleeding,” Dr. Singh explained.
But several of the woman’s relatives are disputing much of the hospital’s report about Peters’ medical condition. The woman’s aunt, Dawn Dover, yesterday contended that not only was her niece not a sickler but she wasn’t a high risk patient either. “On her clinic card it is proven that everything is normal…my niece who is a nurse, checked it and everything is normal,” insisted Dover.
She was however unable to comment on whether the woman had suffered from fibroids and had a previous myomectomy. They, however, noted that Peters, who had given birth to two children previously, had normal deliveries – one at the Linden Hospital and the other in Barbados.
They claimed to have no knowledge why the woman chose to leave her home in Linden to seek maternal care at the private hospital miles away in Georgetown.
According to the woman’s relative if indeed Peters was a high risk patient those attending to her, especially the gynaecologist, should have ensured that Peters was given continuous careful attention even after her baby was delivered.
The relatives, including Peters’ uncle Donald Peters and Leslie Black, are adamant that the hospital is withholding crucial information relating to the circumstances that led to the untimely death.
“After she came out of surgery, she was happy and full of life…she even called her mother the morning of her death,” said Donald of his now dead niece.
He said that while the hospital has since shared some information with the family about measures that were taken after Peters developed the complication; he is convinced that some information is being deliberately withheld.
“We believe there was some amount of negligence and they need to tell the truth…she wasn’t under observation because if she were under observation they would have detected something after the delivery,” said Dover.
The family is especially concerned that up to yesterday they were still not able to hear directly from the attending Gynaecologist. According to them, they are concerned that Peters’ condition might have taken a turn for the worse when she attempted to see her baby rather than continue to recuperate in bed.
“They did not bring the baby to her and she said she was going to see the baby…We need to hear certain things from the gynaecologist but she is not making time to talk to us,” said the relatives yesterday.
But according to Dr. Singh, “The hospital did everything humanly possible, to try to save the life of this patient.”
Dr. Singh said too that several experts were summoned to attend to Peters and within minutes a diagnosis was made allowing for immediate moves to be made to suction the clot. “These are usually post mortem diagnosis…when the patient is dead a lot of times the cause is known but we were able to make the diagnosis before, but we still couldn’t save her,” said Dr. Singh.
She continued, “We did everything that would have been done in any international centre but this patient had such a massive clot that she couldn’t be saved.”
Even as she stressed that there was no negligence or wanting care by experts at the hospital, Dr. Singh asserted that “even in the most advanced countries some deaths do occur. We did our best to save this patient and we did what any advanced centre could have done including providing emergency Cath Lab facilities.”
The hospital in a statement said, “If her [Peters] family was so concerned, then they should have found out more about her condition.”
Meanwhile, the relatives are also contending that hospital officials refused to release Peters’ newborn baby into their care until they paid in full the balance owed for the medical attention rendered.
According to Dover, she was personally told of this stance of the hospital and thus she was the one to make the relevant payment before the baby was released.
But the hospital in response to the family’s accusation said, “An offer was made for our paediatric nurses to care for the baby while the father was making arrangements for the baby’s care. At no time was it said that the bill must be paid off before the baby can leave the hospital.”
The hospital has insisted, too, that it informed the father of the child that it was imperative for the baby to complete a 24-hour observation period before being discharged. But according to Dover, 24 hours had long elapsed when attempts were made to gain access to the baby.
All hospitals are mandated to complete a report and submit same to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) within the Ministry of Public Health once a maternal death occurs.
This publication understands that a report of this nature has been completed by the hospital for the attention of the CMO which should be followed by an investigation to determine whether the hospital was indeed culpable.
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