Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 3rd 2015 Contents Q: Dr Khan, on my way to meet
with you this morning a thought
ran through my mind, when I
was the health reporter at the Guardian,
many moons ago, then health minister
Kamaluddin Mohammed during one of
the frequent flare-ups at a section of the
ministry told me exasperatingly, " Clevon,
this ministry is like a mad house and if
I cannot fix it nobody else can. " Were
those words prophetic?
A: (Half smiling in his office at the
ministry s head office on Park Street,
Port-of-Spain, Thursday morning)
Well, I don t want to disagree with Kamal,
right? He is a stalwart in the politics and is
also one of my constituents. But at that time,
I think it would have been easier to fix than
it is now because of the technological advances,
more people utilise the health sector and the
health needs of people have been increased.
Mr Minister, I did not ask the question
as a reflection of your competence in run-
ning the ministry.
No. No. I understand what you asked me
because there was less everything and you can
imagine how it is more now. If he said it was
bad then, you could imagine how hard it is
now. I feel like I am being punched around in
a ring with Mayweather and Manny...every
two rounds is heavy punches from them (laughs
Dr, I think it was the second time I
interviewed you in this office where you
expressed a yearning to return to your
private practice as a urologist. Have you
regretted staying the course and surely
you would not be resigning at this time?
No, Clevon, I do not regret it and it was
indeed a rough four years. I have learnt a lot.
You don t learn anything unless you pay for
it. I think I have paid with time and activity
and I don t think I regretted any part of the
last 48 months.
Dr Khan, suddenly all these complaints
are tumbling around you. As a minister
in charge of the sector, what has gone
wrong...is it fthe lack of resources, bearing
in mind that it s not the first time these
unfortunate incidents are occurring?
It is not a lack of resources or the lack of
anything. I think it is a series of misfortunes
that have taken place and what I would say,
it is a lack of will on some aspects of the people
who service the health care delivery system.
Aren t you passing the buck,
No. Of course not. I could just create the
policy but those who interact with the patients,
that ground level, that is the most important
part of it. We are always on our toes and health-
care is one of the most stressful environments
you could ever be in, we learn that in medical
By the way, you are aware that medicine
has been scientifically proven to be the
world s number one stressful occupation,
and in second place is journalism...
(Leaning forward on his desk with chin rest-
ing on folded fists) Yes, because you are dealing
with life and death, and if you should make
a mistake somebody could die.
Dr Khan, I do not for one moment
believe that your medical team, including
nurses, deliberately "take out" people s
lives. But don t you think some of them
are making too many of the same mis-
No medical people, nobody ever go out there
to harm anybody. What decreases harm is how
you manage the protocols of treatment and if
you lapse with the protocols, you will cause
Dr Khan, citizens are fed up with these
constant and often fatal incidents at the
nation's health institutions. Is it because
no meaningful sanctions are being applied
to those who make these most distressing
(In a serious mode with crossed hands on
chest) OK. Let me say something that might
cause some heads to roll. In the public health
sector the Ministry of Health and the Attorney
General are the ones who are responsible for
the litigations against a doctor, a nurse or any
other employee and as a result, that respon-
sibility does not lie on the health professional.
Doctors do get sued but the lawsuits are taken
up by the Ministry and the AG.
In the private health sector the doctors are
responsible for their own medical defense; they
have to pay for it. Obstetrics and gynecology,
the defense costs about $150,000 a year to the
Medical Defense Union or to the Medical Pro-
tection Society as insurance in case they made
a mistake for somebody to defend them and
to pay out litigants.
In private practice I had to pay close to
about $50,000 a year and I made sure I made
no mistakes, I went through every single detail
before I performed any operation. A patient
never went into any operating theatre until
they were fully ready, and I would cancel an
operation if I had just an inkling that the patient
was not fully prepared for surgery.
Are you saying, in effect minister, that
in the public sector they do things with
the knowledge that they do not pay out
Yes...and so they continue. In fact, right
now, I have some horror stories from different
hospitals where doctors...
Can you relate just one of these horrific
(Somewhat hesitatingly) I don t want to tell
you because it would look like I am pointing
fingers but you see, in certain hospitals where
people have kidney stones...urological condi-
tions in a major hospital in this country, people
there are not qualified urologists and specialists
and they are seeing about patients.
In fact, one doctor said whenever he had to
refer to that person he gets a heart attack...
.he feels as though he is...and I am trying my
best to weed these things out to make sure
people who are specialists in those areas be
Now, if that person makes a mistake and he
makes a lot of mistakes you know what they
say, they do not sue him, you know. They will
sue the ministry or the respective regional
They are not sued personally?
They are sued but they do not pay anything,
the Government of T&T has to stand that
Dr Khan, I observe you are somewhat
reluctant to go further into this matter,
but can you give us at least one more
example of what can only be described
as an untenable situation?
Ok. One more example. Recently, really a
couple years ago, a doctor injected a patient
with a substance and instead of injecting into
the patient s muscle, injected the patent s vein
in his hand. Guess how much we paid for that?
Six million dollars!
www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY, MAY 3, 2015
with Clevon Raphael
The fact that medical personnel in the public health sector
do not have to personally pay for their series of mistakes,
often fatal, is contributing to the proliferation of these
Health Minister DR FUAD KHAN, lamenting this untenable
situation, said he would like to see a similar position being
taken against these employees like their counterparts in the
private sector who are called upon to pay for their own
Khan spoke about a doctor whose mistake cost taxpayers
$6 million after the patient became mentally ill. The doctor,
he said, who was assigned to Port-of-Spain by the United
Nations, cannot be found.
A recent incident between a patient and nurses at the
maternity ward at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital
involved the throwing of a hot water bottle during the fracas.
Continued on Page A12
'Make doctors pay
for their mistakes'
....child mentally ill after treatment at hospital,
that incident cost taxpayers $6m---Khan
Dr Fuad Khan
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