By Benjamin Flowers
Five mothers who lost their children to the bacterial outbreak at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital last year are suing the hospital for damages.
According to the claimants’ attorney, Karim Musa, the mothers are suing for the cost of burying the babies, valued at $2,000 per child; and compensation, at the court’s discretion, for the emotional trauma caused by the loss of their children.
They are also seeking interest, and costs of the legal proceedings.
Musa explained that the parents have been trying to come to a settlement with the hospital since last year but nothing has been done. He added that they have requested the medical records for the children but the hospital has not submitted any.
“There is a one year statute of limitation in instances of wrongful death. We were approaching that one year without any answers, without any apologies from the government or from the KHMH to these mothers, so we found it necessary to take action,” Musa said .this week.
He added that in his opinion, despite the absence of the medical records, they have enough evidence to prove gross negligence.
The statement of claim was filed on March 28, by the law firm Musa and Balderamos. The claimants are Marissa Cruz, Katricia Panting, Nicole Grinage, Kelsey Young, and a minor via a friend, Sherlette Hernandez.
Last May, 13 newborn babies died in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the KHMH. After an investigation, the hospital determined that a bacterial outbreak of the organism Enterobacter Cloacae caused seven of the deaths.
The KHMH Authority said that despite their initial investigation, they could not determine how the outbreak actually occurred. The Pan American Health Organization sent in a special team to investigate the hospital in collaboration with the hospital authority.
The results of the report determined that the babies were infected due to contaminated intravenous equipment, and that proper hygiene practices were not being followed.
Even after PAHO’s report, no staff member from the hospital was held accountable for the deaths, and no one was reprimanded for the tragic incident.
The other deaths in the NICU for that month were from various other conditions and have been written off by the hospital as the average number of neonatal deaths experienced by the hospital for any given month.