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Judge: Probe SWRHA

Cancer-death case dismissed...

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

Roy Caesar’s lawsuit was dismissed yesterday after he had no documents from the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) to support his claim that his daughter died due to medical negligence after she underwent brain surgery at the San Fernando General Hospital.
However, Justice Frank Seepersad, who delivered the judgement in the the San Fernando High Court, called on the Ministry of Health to conduct an enquiry into the non-disclosure of Esla Caesar’s hospital records.
In the written judgement, Seepersad said, “The Defendant (SWRHA) discharges a public function where free medical care is afforded to citizens. In such circumstances there must be an obligation to discharge its functions efficiently and effectively and there must always be public accountability. Any documentation in relation to the deceased’s treatment ought to have been disclosed and if the documentation was misplaced or lost, then attempts ought to have been made to contact and obtain statements from the doctors and nurses who treated the deceased. Public officials and functionaries must always be accountable for their actions. The Ministry of Health would be well advised to conduct an enquiry into this matter and the course adopted in this matter ought never to be repeated.”
The SWRHA filed a defence by no witness statements in the case.
Statements were given by Caesar who had been trying for the past seven years to get his daughter’s hospital records.
In his statement, Caesar said that his 25-year-old daughter underwent an operation to remove a brain tumour and while it was a success, two days later, he noticed gangrene on the toes of both her feet.
Caesar said Esla died at the hospital from broncho-pneumonia on September 13 2004, four days after the operation.
He claimed his daughter never before had gangrene and broncho-pneumonia and it was negligence in the post-operative care of his daughter that led to her developing both conditions.
But Seepersad said that Caesar was unqualified to make such statements about his daughter’s condition and it cannot be inferred that his daughter died after these conditions became evident.
He said that attorneys for the SWRHA indicated that the requested medical reports would have been provided but in 2009 a senior legal officer said there were no records except the patient’s cards showing she was a patient at the hospital. These cards were not handed over to the claimants who are the ones to prove their case of negligence.
Seepersad said he could not be guided by sympathy and must have regard to the evidence before him.
Caesar, a father of four, said in his statement that his daughter’s death caused severe grief and trauma to both him and his family including her son and only child, who was three-years-old at the time. Caesar was seeking damages and costs.
Caesar said he was dissatisfied that the case was dismissed, and plans to appeal the judge’s decision.
Ther SWRHA was represetned by attorney Roger Kawalsingh instructed by Lisa Francis. Caesar was represented by attorney Andre Rajkumar.
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