Deonath Ramkissoon (Legal Personal Representative of the Estate of the Late Aaron Ramkissoon) and Denecia Sookram v The Eastern Regional Health Authority HC 2135/2008
Name of Case: Deonath Ramkissoon (Legal Personal Representative of the Estate of the Late Aaron Ramkissoon) and Denecia Sookram v The Eastern Regional Health Authority HC 2135/2008
Type of Medical Negligence: Death of an Infant
Date of Judgment: 16th December, 2009
Judge Presiding: Justice Vasheist Kokaram
Ms. Denecia Sookram was admitted to the Sangre Grande Hospital on 11th January, 2005. At the time, Ms. Sookram was 38 weeks pregnant and in very early labour. Ms. Sookram subsequently gave birth to Aaron Sookram (hereinafter referred to as “the baby”) on the said day. However, all was not well with the baby as he had an APGAR score of 7 at birth and a score of 9 five minutes after birth.
On the 12th January, 2015 the baby was breast fed by Ms. Sookram who alleged that before she was allowed to burp the baby, he was taken away from her and placed in an incubator. After the baby was taken from his mother and between the hours of 3:30a.m and 11:30a.m, the baby was under the care and management of the hospital staff. At about 3:30 am, it was observed that not enough oxygen was going into the baby’s lungs. On the next occasion, when Ms. Sookram was allowed to see her baby, he was in the incubator cold and lying still, was no longer breathing and had subsequently died.
Both parents of the baby commenced an action against the Defendant for damages in negligence. The father of the baby brought an action on behalf of the Estate of the baby while the mother brought a claim for general damages for negligence attributed to the staff of the hospital in their treatment of her baby during the course of the delivery of her baby and nervous shock as a result of death.
The Court opined that the accepted standards of the ordinary competent practitioner in the instant case were not met. The cause of death was due to respiratory failure caused by asphyxia following feeding and even if the failure to burp the child was not the cause of the baby’s death, based on the facts, the duty nurse and doctor failed to exercise the proper care and skill in the treatment of the baby during the critical period.
The Court awarded damages to the First Claimant against the Defendant in the sum of $22,000.00 with interest. However, given that the Court was not convinced that the second Claimant suffered any clinical depression, nervous shock or anxiety beyond normal grief, the second Claimant’s claim was dismissed with no order as to costs.
The Defendant was mandated to pay costs to the first Claimant.