Child cancer deaths: Culpable doctors were removed from GPHC

-       Currently under final disciplinary review with the medical council

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By Vishani Ragobeer

The medical doctors who were involved in the misadministration of drugs, which led to the deaths of three children at the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), were relieved of their duties, according to several well-placed sources.

In January last year, three children succumbed while receiving treatment for leukaemia (a form of cancer) at the GPHC. The three children received the medication between January 3 and 4, 2019. On January 5, the doctors became aware that the medication was administered incorrectly. And, within hours of receiving the medication, the children started to experience strange symptoms and cried out for pain in their legs and arms.

On January 14, the first child, seven-year-old Curwayne Edwards, died. Then, four days later, it was three-year-old Roshini Seegobin. In another eight days, the third child, six-year-old Sharezer Mendonca, died.

An investigation by the GPHC was launched and the doctors who were involved in administering the treatment to the children were sent on administrative leave on January 29, 2019, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Subsequently, the GHPC’s investigation and an independent Ministry of Health investigation found that the incorrect administration of the drugs, coupled with “systemic challenges” contributed to the loss of the children’s lives.

Recently, however, the News Room was informed that the two junior doctors and the paediatric supervisor were sanctioned and have not worked with the hospital since the investigation was launched. This was confirmed by the former Chief Medical Officer, Dr Shamdeo Persaud.

The contract one of the junior doctors and the supervisor had with the GPHC were not renewed while the other junior doctor was dismissed.

In addition to losing their employment with the GPHC, at least one of the doctors, hired through the Ministry of Health, is before the Medical Council’s disciplinary committee. This matter is ongoing at the committee’s “final review,” according to the Chairman of the Medical Council, Dr Navindranauth Rambaran.

Since the death of those three children, the GPHC has attempted to strengthen its internal systems to prevent any future recurrence. The GPHC’s Communications Manager, Chelauna Providence, in an invited comment, related that the hospital sought to encourage its staff to follow carefully established Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs).

The investigation into the deaths of the three children is not yet completed, however.

One of the three families has taken some legal action. The two other families, on the other hand, have opted to accept compensation from the GPHC and are not pursuing any action against the hospital.

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