Deaths of three children at Guyana hospital due to human error, probe finds

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — An initial investigation into the deaths of three patients at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) in January has found that human deficiencies and systemic challenges contributed to the demise of the three infants.

Seven-year-old Curwayne Edwards, three-year-old Roshnie Seegobin and six-year-old Shareezer Mendonca died at the hospital within a three week period in January this year.

Chairperson of the GPHC board of directors, Kessaundra Alves, presented the report of the investigating committee, headed by the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Karen Gordon-Campbell.

The report noted that human deficiencies and systemic challenges contributed to the deaths of the three infants and that GPHC protocols for the delivery of chemotherapy to infants were not adhered to.

The report recommended a number of measures in terms of system strengthening with the aim of preventing the possibility of recurrence. The measures include addressing staffing in the paediatric oncology unit, management of the department and also ensuring that the standard treatment guidelines and protocol are made known to the staff and effectively followed.

Dr Gordon-Campbell said part of the problem is that the treatment was administered incorrectly. Protocols for administering chemotherapy treatment is determined by dosage, patient’s condition at the time of administering, weight among other key points which can make a difference in how the body may react to the drug.

Director of Medical and Professional Services at the GPHC, Dr Fawcett Jeffrey, who was also involved in the investigation, said that had the protocol and treatment guidelines been followed this situation could have been avoided.

“When you are going to treat a patient there are certain protocols you need to follow there are road maps that you need to follow when you are going to administer any form of medical attention to a patient and what happened is that these road maps were not followed exactly as they should be and that is the reason we end up with the complication.”

GPHC chief executive officer, retired Brigadier, George Lewis said that “an evaluation is currently being done by PAHO/WHO with a view of assisting us in identifying the additional deficiency, assisting us in terms of building our human resource capacity and we hope that at the end of this process we can have a much stronger, better equipped Paediatric Oncology department.”

The medical personnel involved in the administering of the intravenous and intrathecal drug treatment have been on administrative leave and will remain so until further notice.

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