Investigation launched into death at NA Hospital By Daniel Da Costa
Stabroek News
March 31, 2002

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An investigation has been launched into the death of 20-year old Jason Joseph at the New Amsterdam Hospital last Saturday. Stabroek News has been informed that the investigation is being conducted by the Medical Superintendent.

Joseph of Vryman's Erven, New Amsterdam, died at the institution some time before midday on Saturday after being taken there just after 1:00 am with chop wounds about his upper body. According to a friend who was in his company, Joseph sustained a gaping wound to his right arm and two smaller cuts to his chest and chin.

Dorwyn Williams said that his friend was chopped by another patron with a short cutlass at a popular nightspot at Cumberland, East Canje, Berbice, following a verbal confrontation.

Williams rushed Joseph to the hospital's Accident and Emergency Unit on his motorcycle. Stabroek News has since learnt that the orthopaedic surgeon was summoned by nurses at the Unit and not the general surgeon. Hospital sources, while confirming that the general surgeon, a Cuban, was on call, explained that he was not summoned to attend to the patient. According to one source, the general surgeon was subsequently called by the orthopaedic surgeon at around 9:00 am and asked to assist in treating the patient.

Relatives of the deceased have expressed their dissatisfaction over the quality and timeliness of the treatment given the young man. According to the man's mother, her son died as a result of a gaping wound to his hand which was bleeding profusely and described the other two cuts to his chest and chin as "minor".

An independent source told this newspaper that Joseph was taken to the X Ray Department sometime between 8:30 am and 9:00 am. Joseph's mother, Anne Joseph, said that she arrived at the hospital at around 1:30 am and no doctor had arrived. "My son was crying out for pain and the wound was still bleeding profusely. At 7:00 am when I returned I was told that he needed blood and at 9:00 am I was informed that he had been taken to the theatre and was receiving blood."

Over the years a number of patients have died at the institution under questionable circumstances but the outcome of the investigations launched into some of these deaths have not been made public.

The death of 25-year old Shabodeen Kassim of Vryheid Village on November 24 last at the institution sparked widespread condemnation, including protest action outside the hospital by relatives.

A five man Commission of Inquiry was subsequently appointed by Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy to investigate two deaths at the hospital, including Kassim's, and services offered by the institution.

Among its recommendations was that the service of the hospital should be urgently improved as it relates to professional assets, medical personnel and laboratory services. However, the minister had expressed the view that maximum use was not being made of the existing human and physical resources at the hospital, arguing that this was the cause of its woes.

Sources at the hospital, however, said that conditions at the institution such as poor salaries, inadequate equipment and facilities, and staff shortages were responsible for the poor services offered. According to one source, the hospital was in need of at least seven government medical officers (GMOs) and four additional consultants/specialists to cater for an efficient 24 hour shift system. Medexes have mostly been manning the Outpatient and Accident and Emergency Departments for some time now.