Less than a week after a four-year-old child had died on the Essequibo Coast, because of the perceived negligence of a nurse at a government healthcare facility, the situation at some of the country’s other health-care hubs seems to be still offering up other ridiculous forms of medical negligence, which can regrettably yield the same end results.
This time, the alleged negligence of nurses at the Melanie Health Centre (on the East Coast of Demerara) almost led to a similar demise for another child, whose parents are still angered by their experience.
According to one of the aggrieved parent (name withheld), he took his eight-year-old son to the Melanie Health Centre at about 3pm last week Wednesday for medical attention, after the child had suffered a seemingly minor injury to the instep of his left foot.
The injury was as a result of the child coming into contact with a piece of a broken bottle while playing on the lawns of his home.
However, while at the health facility, a nurse there (name withheld) told the man that no doctor is available, hence she cannot look at the child.
The puzzled father then suggested to the nurse that she can at least try to ensure that the child is out of danger by applying some sort of first aid treatment, which can entail applying some sort of antiseptic to the wound, but the nurse refused.
In the end, the nurse maintained that the parent would have to return with the child the next day.
Reluctantly heeding the nurse advise, the parent took the child home and tried to apply home remedies, but instead, the child cried out for pain almost all night, as there was no medication in the home to treat him.
Early the next morning, the parent eagerly took the child to see the doctor once again at the Melanie Health Centre, but was told that the child would have to come back after 1pm.
And since it was already just after 8am, and having to wait for another five hours, the parent opted to return home.
But when he went back in the afternoon around 2pm, he was told once again that the doctor had already left.
Not sure what to do, the distraught man explained that he decided to buy some pain tablets to treat the child; but by nightfall, a severe fever began to set in.
Thereafter, the child began to endure on-and-off bouts of fever over several days, as the parent continue to apply home remedies.
But by Wednesday night (about a week after), the child’s condition worsened, forcing an older brother (of adult age) to go back to the Melanie Health Centre on Thursday morning (18 January) with his sibling.
However, the nurses there told him that the doctor still cannot see the child because “Today is old people day”.
Frustrated at the continued excuses to treat the child, the child’s parent opted to go to a private hospital where it was determined that the child wound had lead to a mild onset of sepsis.
As a result, emergency medical care was applied.
According to several well-placed medical professionals, Sepsis is a life-threatening condition, which can lead to death, sometimes within a matter of hours, even when an affected person is being treated.
It can be caused when a wound is left untreated, among other similar situations, where the body has to release a large number of chemicals into the bloodstream to fight a severe infection.
Fortunately for the child, he is already recovering well.
And while the doctor who treated him is not sure about the circumstances surrounding the child’s case, they are of the opinion that no one, and more so a child, should not be turned away when they are in need of medical assistance.
Hence, in the current circumstances, he stressed that the Ministry of Health should try to ascertain exactly what had happened, and take steps to ensure that these forms of medical negligence do not happen again.
In recent times, several patients have lodged media complaints against staff at the said Melanie Health Centre, claiming that nurses often come to work very late and leave ridiculously early, while the same behaviour is replicated by other senior medical staff there.
Efforts to contact the Regional Health Officer over several days regarding the issue proved futile, since inquiries by this publication were always greeted with an indication that the RHO is out of office or is in a meeting.