Reheda Joseph Monroe v Minister of Health and the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago HCA No. 1111 of 1998
Name of Case: Reheda Joseph Monroe v Minister of Health and the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago HCA No. 1111 of 1998
Type of Medical Negligence: Maternity/Childbirth
Date of Judgment: 7th September, 2001
Judge Presiding: The Honourable Mr. Justice Gregory Smith
The Plaintiff who was three to four months pregnant, visited the Mount Hope Maternity Hospital at about 11:30 pm on 29th May, 1997, after suspecting that there was a rupture of her “water bag.” Upon visiting the hospital, the Plaintiff was informed that an ultra sound was required however; it could not be conducted until Monday since the machine had “broken down.” The Plaintiff continued to experience abdominal pain which went unrelieved and aborted the foetus on Monday morning. Although the foetus was removed, the nurses informed the Plaintiff that a “D and C” operation had to be performed in order to remove the placenta. After the operation, the Plaintiff was discharged the following night.
While at home, the Plaintiff claimed that she felt “something as big as a child” drop from her and she took the “mass” to Dr. Hoyte who informed her that it was a blood clot. Antibiotics were prescribed, however; the pain and bleeding continued for up to two weeks after the operation.
The Plaintiff claimed damages against the Defendants for the negligence of the hospital staff at the Mount Hope Maternity Hospital consequent upon her aborted pregnancy. The Defendants denied any negligence and alleged that the Plaintiff was properly diagnosed and that standard procedures were followed during the period she spent at hospital.
The Court concluded that the bleeding and clotting which occurred may have been a natural phenomenon and not linked to any negligence or fault in anyone. Furthermore, since the Plaintiff’s post operation examination revealed little bleeding and no clotting, the Court opined that the operation itself was done according to standard practice which reduced the risk of a large mass forming.
Moreover, given that the no corrective procedure nor change of prescription was given by the doctor who saw the Plaintiff post operatively, this suggested that there was no need for any correction since the surgery was not done negligently. Additionally, since the ultra sound recommended by Dr. Hoyte revealed no retained products in the uterus or swelling in the fallopian tubes; this suggested that the operation caused no unusual injury to the Plaintiff. As a result the case for negligence in the performance of the “D and C” operation was not proved.
The Plaintiff’s claim was dismissed and the Plaintiff was ordered to pay the costs of the Defendant.