I hope the Sandys get justice for their deceased baby, doctors should not be investigating doctors

Dear Editor,

Please permit me to extend my sincere condolences to the relatives of now deceased baby Maleek Sandy. I read of their horror story at GPHC.

I am no paediatric surgeon. I am no surgeon period. I’m no paediatrician. Why should a baby die from duodenal atresia? I am assuming the baby had no other congenital abnormalities. From what I have read, it appears that this unfortunate baby developed sepsis which was complicated by disseminated intravascular  coagulation. Where was the source of this infection? Was it from the Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)? Had this infection originated from the New Amsterdam Hospital where baby Maleek was born?

And then no platelets at the GPHC. The country’s main referral hospital has no platelets. Wow! This reminded me of an unfortunate mother who delivered a healthy baby a few months ago and had a ruptured uterus and required blood transfusion. No blood was available in Linden, so the driver had to scurry to Georgetown to get blood. Of course the patient died before receiving the blood transfusion. Even if they did not have compatible blood she could have been transfused with O-negative blood. All hospitals should have O- negative blood for emergency transfusion.

To compound matters for the grieving parents was the attitude of the surgeon. Come on, show some compassion. Speak to the parents they are hurting. Not speaking to them will only compound their pain. I guess in that wasteland called Guyana, doctors are Gods. They do not speak to mere mortals.

Now the investigation. The Medical Council of Guyana will investigate this doctor or doctors. Guess what? This investigation would be done by doctors. How can doctors investigate themselves? In my opinion the Medical Council of Guyana investigation panel should be independent of doctors, independent of the Medical Council of Guyana and be apolitical. It should be made up of lawyers, lay persons, non practising doctors and adjudicators. Practising doctors should only play the role of expert witnesses. Until that day where we desist from having doctors investigating themselves, doctors would not be held accountable and clinical negligence will go on unabated.

I would also state that having persons affiliated with political parties on the Medical Council is not in the best interest of justice. I’ll tell you an experience I had. After finishing medical school, I did my internship at GPHC. No concerns were ever raised about my clinical practice. I was and still am very outspoken. I spoke out against what was happening at GPHC by the PPP/C government. Some senior figures at GPHC who were affiliated with the PPP were a part of the medical council. When I applied to the medical council to be registered they did not want to register me. My consultant objected. As a result they were forced to register me. My consultant called me in his office the following day and told me I need to be careful. I left that wasteland Guyana soon after and promised not to return. Not even my dead ashes would be taken there.

I hope the Sandys get justice. They appear to be in a financial position to pay for justice. Unfortunately many Guyanese with similar experiences cannot do so. Their pain is just swept underneath the proverbial carpet.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Mark Devonish MBBS



Consultant Acute Medicine

Nottingham University