Hospital claims second 12-lb baby was stillborn, denies burying it

The Georgetown Public Hospital has denied that it buried the 12-pound baby born to teacher Pamela Lashley, but claims that the child was stillborn and “the hospital’s policy is not to perform autopsies on stillborn (mascerated) babies”.

Stabroek News in yesterday’s edition featured an interview conducted with the 32-year-old primary school teacher of Victoria, East Coast Demerara. Lashley accused the hospital of negligence in her baby’s death on Friday last. The woman also expressed dissatisfaction that the hospital buried her child at an unknown location, even after she refused to sign documents which would allow the state to do so and said she was refused an autopsy.

In a press release issued yesterday, the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) said it considered the report, which was published under the caption ‘Second 12lb baby dies in GPH delivery – buried without permission after request for autopsy, says mother’, one of “deliberate misinformation and inaccuracies”.

The hospital denied claims by Lashley that her child had a steady heart rate after examination on Friday. Instead, it stated, there was no foetal heart rate and Spalding’s sign was present. It further stated that this was explained to the patient who reportedly indicated that she understood. (Spalding’s sign is the overlapping of foetal cranial bones, which indicates death of a foetus in the uterus.)

However, when contacted yesterday, Lashley insisted that she could have felt her baby moving even as she went into labour and maintained that her baby died during the period she was being transferred from the antenatal ward to the labour room.

Conversely, the hospital said that results of an ultrasound which was ordered subsequently proved that the Spalding’s sign was positive and that there was a dead foetus to be removed. Within three hours, the release added, Lashley delivered a still-born macerated baby. (Masceration occurs when a dead foetus remains in the uterus for 3 to 4 days. It does not occur if the dead foetus is born within 24 hours.)

With regard to the autopsy, the mother told Stabroek News that because the doctor was unable to provide her with a cause of death for her child, she requested an autopsy be done, but was told that it was not necessary. In its statement, the hospital said autopsy was not its policy in such cases and added that Lashley had initially indicated that she did not intend burying the baby, but subsequently withdrew that decision.

Lashley yesterday reiterated that she had clearly pointed out to the nurses that she would bury her baby and further refused to sign the documents which were presented to her by a doctor, and which stated that she was handing over the dead infant to the state.

“The nurse ask me if I will bury baby and I said yes. Then when the doctor come with the papers I said I am not signing. I want to bury my child,” she maintained.

The GPHC also stated that the baby had not been given a poor-person’s burial but was being kept at the hospital’s mortuary. Lashley said this was unbelievable and questioned the hospital’s agenda as she was told twice when she tried to claim the body that her child had been buried.

The hospital has also contested claims by the mother that an ultrasound was performed to verify whether the baby was indeed very big. It reiterated that Lashley had been notified of her and the foetus’ condition on admission and the ultrasound was performed only to confirm that the baby was dead.

The hospital said too that since Lashley’s labour lasted less then four hours, a caesarean section was completely unnecessary.

Lashley was invited to meet the hospital’s administration to clarify the issue and also to confirm the presence of the deceased baby. She told Stabroek News that she will accept the invitation.

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