CHAIRMAN of Medcorp Ltd Dr Kongsheik Achong Low has been found negligent in the death of a 36-year-old patient.
High Court judge Justice Ricky Rahim yesterday ruled that Achong Low was negligent in the death of Karen Lezama, a mother of three, at Stanley's Maternity Clinic on April 6, 2003.
Lezama bled to death hours after she had a stillbirth.
Achong Low was also ordered to pay costs to Lezama's estate.
Achong Low is a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist and the chairman of Medcorp Ltd.
Medcorp Ltd owns the St Clair Medical Centre, the Brian Lara Cancer Treatment Centre, Goodhealth Medical Centre and Caribbean Heart Care.
On April 2, 2003, Lezama began to feel contractions and was advised by Dr Petronella Manning-Alleyne, the paediatrician for all her children, to go to Stanley's Clinic.
Lezama was kept overnight and discharged on April 3, 2003.
She attended her routine visit with her regular physician, Dr Leola Weithers, on April 3, 2003 where an ultrasound was performed.
Weithers was scheduled to be out of the country and asked Achong Low to cover her practice.
Achong Low had delivered Lezama's third child, Justin.
On April 4, 2003, Lezama complained she was not feeling movements from the baby.
Lezama's husband, Brian, took her to the private nursing home on April 6, 2003.
Around 11 a.m., Brian said he was informed by Achong Low that the baby was dead and had to be delivered naturally.
Labour was induced and the baby was stillborn.
The baby, who was eventually named Ryan, weighed eight pounds, six ounces.
Lezama started to bleed profusely after Ryan was removed.
Achong Low ordered that Lezama's stomach be rubbed for three to four hours and everything would normalise.
Lezama eventually bled to death.
During childbirth, the average blood loss is two to three pints. Lezama lost eight pints.
Brian claimed his wife was a "gestational diabetic" and a known bleeder.
Rahim ruled there was "no evidence the patient history recorded that she was a known bleeder".
He however ruled that Achong Low was negligent by "failing to take urgent and immediate or any reasonable steps to stop the haemorrhage once it had started".
Achong Low was also negligent by "failing to administer sufficient medication to stop the bleeding", Rahim ruled.
Achong Low was also negligent by "failing to exercise all due care and diligence in the treatment of the deceased in all circumstances of the case", Rahim ruled.
Lezama's estate was represented by Senior Counsel Stanley Marcus and instructed by Patricia Dindial.
Achong Low was represented by Stuart Young and instructed by Anthony Bullock.
Both parties agreed that damages would be assessed and costs quantified by a Master on a date to be fixed by the court.
Brian yesterday said Rahim's ruling restored his faith in the country's judicial system.
Brian said since the death of his wife nine years ago, he had been praying for this day to come.
"I am elated, very happy, to hear at least, in some way, their mother's plight, and the death of their brother, was brought to light," Brian said in relation to the impact the ruling would have on his children.
Brian said he hoped the ruling would have a positive effect on the country's medical system.
"As a result of the ruling, I hope this case brings to light the plight of mothers in the medical system ," he said.
Rahim, in his judgment, applauded the "Herculean responsibility" of medical practitioners.
"In conclusion, the court wishes to add that it appreciates the Herculean responsibility with which (Achong Low) was confronted without notice.
Medical practitioners bear the unenviable task of oftentimes managing the fragility of human life under tremendous pressure and dynamic circumstances," Rahim stated in his judgment.
"The management often involves literal life-and-death decisions, with no time for leisurely reflection. This is perhaps a feature which is unique to very few professions.
"But be that as it may, it is a responsibility entrusted to them by the public at large, in whose collective and singular interest they must, at all times, act by adhering to the accepted practice in their area of speciality, even under the most dire circumstances," Rahim stated.