DEADLY NIGHT SHIFT

Night de­liv­er­ies at Ju­bilee prove lethal for ba­bies!

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Erica Virtue Se­nior Gleaner Writer

THE FOUR ba­bies the Min­istry of Health ac­knowl­edged to have died re­cently at the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hospi­tal (VJH), af­ter be­ing in­fected dur­ing an out­break of Group B Strep­to­coc­cus (GBS), were de­liv­ered on the night shift at the fa­cil­ity.

Af­ter The Sun­day Gleaner broke the story on Oc­to­ber 9 of the tragic deaths of the new­borns, Health Min­is­ter Dr Christopher Tufton or­dered an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the in­ci­dent.

Four days later, the min­is­ter and a team of health of­fi­cials pre­sented find­ings at a press con­fer­ence, stat­ing that four ba­bies died from eight who were in­fected with GBS trans­ferred from mother to child dur­ing vag­i­nal de­liv­ery.

How­ever, a re­port pre­pared by VJH of­fi­cials on the sit­u­a­tion at the hospi­tal, and made avail­able to the com­mit­tee Tufton had con­vened to carry out the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, stated that 26 ba­bies had in fact died over a two-month pe­riod (Au­gust and Septem­ber). This rep­re­sents an ap­prox­i­mate 550 per cent in­crease from what the Tufton com­mit­tee re­ported.

In pro­vid­ing details on all the cases, the VJH re­port raised con­cerns about the ra­tio of staff to pa­tient, in re­la­tion to

the gravely ill neonates and their sub­se­quent deaths. Ac­cord­ing to the re­ports, prac­ti­cally all the in­fant mor­tal­ity cases oc­curred on the night shift.

The de­scrip­tive pro­file pre­sented by of­fi­cials at the health min­istry’s Oc­to­ber 13 press con­fer­ence was iden­ti­cal to some of those pre­sented in the VJH re­port, a copy of which The Sun­day Gleaner ob­tained.

For ex­am­ple, the Min­istry of Health (MOH) re­port stated one baby born on Septem­ber 11 died two days later on the 13th. The baby was born at term at 11:55 p.m. A sec­ond child was de­liv­ered at 34 weeks on Septem­ber 12 at 12:16 a.m. That child lived for seven hours.

The MOH in­for­ma­tion ref­er­enced a third baby de­liv­ered on the 15th of the month, and a fourth who was de­liv­ered on the 19th Septem­ber and died on the 20th. In the VJH re­port, it stated that a child was born on the 19th and died on the 21st. That child was de­liv­ered at 11:38 p.m., and an­other de­liv­ered on Septem­ber 20 at 2:52 a.m. and pro­nounced dead at 9:45 a.m.

One of the surviving chil­dren, ac­cord­ing to the VJH re­port, was a baby de­liv­ered on the 15th of Septem­ber at 11:38 p.m. at 40 weeks. Both mother and baby were dis­charged four days later on the 19th.

It was un­clear from the list of pro­files pre­sented by the MOH which was the surviving child. Also, the MOH did not pro­vide any in­for­ma­tion on the ad­di­tional surviving chil­dren.

The Sun­day Gleaner was told that a chronic short­age of nurses at all pub­lic hos­pi­tals, in­clud­ing VJH, has im­pacted the ra­tio of neonates to nurs­ing pro­fes­sion­als.

The source said that many of the nurses were ro­tat­ing nurses, “do­ing ses­sions” and “very few per­ma­nent staff avail­able for night du­ties at the hospi­tal”. It was also ex­plained that many of

I am sure that if there was a way to split the ex­pe­ri­enced day shift in two, putting some on the night shift with the young doc­tors and nurses, more in­fants born on the night shift would be saved.

Dr Christopher Tufton, Min­is­ter of Health.

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