Judge finds SWRHA guilty of negligence
A high court judge has found the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) guilty of medical negligence in the death of 30-year-old Navin Singh.
In a ruling on Friday at the San Fernando Supreme Court, Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams found the man was misdiagnosed and that doctors at the Princes Town Health centre did not carry out sufficient tests which would have shown that Singh had a flesh-eating bug and not sciatia.
Singh died less than 48 hours after he was twice misdiagnosed by doctors at the Princes Town Health centre when he was actually dying from the flesh-eating bug virus necrotizing fasciitis.
After the ruling, the man’s mother Bhagwantee Singh-Weekes, who filed the lawsuit was more than pleased with the outcome.
“We got justice. I can’t get back my child but I get to understand what took place with him and what happened,” said Singh-Weekes in a telephone interview yesterday.
The court heard that back in 2014, Singh’s mother Bhagwantee from Gajadhar Lands, Princes Town, took him to the health centre because he had severe pain in his right knee and was vomiting.
He was attended to by Dr Shane Karim who made a diagnosis of sciatica and prescribed tramadol, gravol and zantac.
Singh’s condition deteriorated resulting in him being unable to walk or move. He was taken back to the Princes Town health centre and attended to by Dr Benedict, who prescribed the same medication as the one before and again sent him home.
Neither doctor at the health centre performed blood tests or any further testing on Singh.
Two days later the 30-year-old returned to the health centre and was immediately referred to the San Fernando General Hospital because of his critical condition. At the hospital, he was diagnosed with the flesh-eating bug Necrotising Fasciitis. Navin succumbed to his injuries and died at the hospital the following day.
During the court proceedings, renowned international expert Dr David Mayer Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery from New York Medical College testified as an expert witness via video link.
Dr Mayer said that the medical treatment of Navin was negligent and deficient and the doctors failed to perform basic blood tests that could have alerted them that there was a bacterial infection which would have led to an early diagnosis of Necrotising Fasciitis.
Professor Vijay Naraynsingh also testified on behalf of the Health Authority, to the effect that had an earlier diagnosis been made, proper treatment could have been administered that would have saved Navin’s life.
Justice Quinlan-Williams, also found that Dr Benedict was not a credible witness.
She then found the SWRHA liable for damages in medical negligence and indicated the court would proceed to assess the compensation to be paid at a later date.
Singh’s mother, Bhagwantee was represented by Anand Ramlogan SC, Jared Jagroo and instructed by Dr Che` Dindial of Freedom Law Chambers. The Health Authority was represented by Vijai Deonarine, Marissa Ramsunda instructed by Krystal Kawal.
Thanking her attorneys and family for their support, Weekes-Singh said, “The five years of struggle was not easy. Thank God everything work out. It was really really tough.” She said every one in the family had put their lives on hold as they fought this legal battle.
“Honestly everyday you get up and you have to try to live with this on your mind.” She said her son was a welder and was engaged to be married the following year before he died.
The mother called for an independent body comprising medical experts and professionals to be set up to deal with claims of medical negligence at the public hospitals. “Imagine, the doctors here were telling me that they did everything for my child and they did not do nothing.”
By: Sascha Wilson & Melissa Williams-Sambrano