Fourth mother comes forward, minister admits to procedural errors at NICU

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Procedural errors have been identified as the cause for at least three babies being burned while in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Mount St. John’s Medical Centre (MSJMC) shortly after they were born between 2014 and February this year.

Although the specific errors made were not identified in the post-Cabinet press briefing notes on Wednesday night, it stated that the Minister of Health and Wellness, Molwyn Joseph, raised the issue in Cabinet based on what was reported to him and he learned the burns “were caused by procedural errors” while the babies were “in the incubator”.

The communique added, “There exists a certain protocol, or step-by-step approach, required of the medical experts who are acquainted with the necessary steps. Departure from the equipment manufacturer’s protocol are not to be short-circuited …”

According to the Cabinet, “Investigations into the reports are being conducted.”

Nothing was said as to whether there would be repercussions for those who erred.

In the meantime, a fourth woman came forward yesterday morning, reporting that her baby was burned after he was delivered in late February of this year. OBSERVER media has also learned of a fifth mother with a similar complaint, but she is yet to respond to our queries.

Yesterday morning also, the Minister of Information, Melford Nicholas said the health minister spoke about the first set of cases in Cabinet and said he was dissatisfied with the content of a press statement issued by the management of MSJMC regarding the matter.

The minister said his colleague expected more “transparency” from the hospital.

At the end of March, OBSERVER media broke the Continued on page 4

Errors from page 3

news about two babies being burned after the mothers came forward. One baby was burned on the face last July, and the area now has a large scar after it healed. The mother, who said she should be compensated for the child’s injury, said the hospital told her the burn would have improved and the scar would disappear. But it appears the scar is permanent and it is visible at first glance.

The second child sustained burns in January on four of her fingers which have fortunately healed without any scarring.

Not long after they spoke out, a third mom complained she had the same experience in 2014 and said she took legal action against the hospital and won, but the matter is now being appealed.

In each case, the hospital staff reportedly told the mothers they did not know what caused the burns, and this was indicated on the discharge sheets they received.

In the case of the baby being burned on the face, the hospital reportedly told the mother initially that it was likely a skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, but they later ruled it out when she rejected the diagnosis since she had no history of the condition.

Recently, the health minister called on the MSJMC to address the matter publicly, and on Tuesday, when the hospital finally issued a press statement, it only said it cared for its patients and staff, but it did not address how the babies were burned and whether any investigation was launched, or action taken.

In the meantime, the fourth mom who is speaking out said her baby was born in late February and he was burned while in the NICU. According to her, the hospital said the child “has bad veins”, but after she refused to accept that as the reason for the burn on his right antecubital fossa (inside the bend of the elbow), they admitted that the “IV they were giving him burned his hand, it was running out on his skin because they didn’t put it in properly.”

The mother said since the child was discharged from hospital in early March, and when she took him to the clinic to have the burn treated, they told her they could not do so, and advised her to go back to MSJMC.

The woman said the hospital has been applying a “cream” to her son’s hand but the area is still “raw” and it is not healing.

She added that he gets a fever ever so often and she does not have the means to keep visiting a private paediatrician.

The 40-year-old mom said she hopes that the health minister and MSJMC would address the problem that has been causing babies to be burned because it is a very painful thing for the parents and the children.

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