Oxygen issue at hospital

The availability and standard of oxygen at the nation’s hospitals has been raised by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) at its first press conference for the new year.

The party’s Public Relations Officer, former Education Minister, Senator Franka Bernadine ripped into the service at the hospital, stating that the institution should be a place where people feel safe and not a place where people go to die.

Speaking to reporters at the press briefing, Sen. Bernadine charged that Congress has been getting information which suggest that persons who go to the hospital for treatment were getting sick due to the quality of the oxygen given to them as patients.

“What was brought to our attention was what we are thinking to be the acceptable standard of pure oxygen ….may not be 100% oxygen….”, she said.

“…As a Chemist myself, I’m aware of certain deleterious effects of absolutely pure oxygen but whatever the criteria is, there is a significant drop in the quality. In fact, I don’t want to get any further but there are speculation that there were sicknesses resulting from the fact that the oxygen content although lesser also had the presence of questionable contaminants, not necessarily introduced but as a result of certain maintenance procedures…” she added.

Sen. Bernadine made mention of a recent situation where a 31 year old woman lost her life because oxygen was not given to her in time.

“…There has been a case of a 31 year old young woman in Grenville, St Andrew who died as a result of coming into the hospital, there being no oxygen to support her, there being no ambulance to bring her to St George’s – by the time they could send for the ambulance to bring it up there she had passed away.

“…It is the opinion of a medical practitioner because most of us don’t have that training, we have to rely on what is the opinion – had this young lady been given oxygen in time she should not have been dead today, 31 years old.

According to Sen. Bernadine, what is most disturbing about the situation at the nation’s health institutions is that there is no accountability in the issue.

She said there is not a system in place that calls for the accounting of every death at the hospital, which is something that is standard in most hospitals in this region.

“I am myself well aware of three such trainees attending University of the West Indies – for example who every Saturday and I listened to the stories every day for five years – attend what they call a Pathology conference where everybody who dies at the hospital must be accounted for…”, she said.

Sen. Bernadine noted that in these conference, the House Officer, Registrars, Senior House Officer, the Consultant and others are all present to make sure “that they could follow what happened to the person.

Among the issues that will be looked at during these sessions are – who saw the person when they came in, how long did it take to get them X-rayed, what were they given, when was the diagnosis made, right up to the input of the Consultant.

“The Consultant …would then say, the decision to operate was taken at this time, this is what we decided to do. Unfortunately the lady could not pull through… nothing happens in our system, you dead, we sorry we bury, the next case comes along”, said Sen. Bernadine.

The ex-government minister stressed that this is situation is unacceptable and more should be done to put back systems in place to provide people with “some measure of explanation and accountability”.

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