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Malpractice suit against
SWRHA dismissed but...
A High Court judge is calling on
the Ministry of Health to launch
an inquiry into why a health
authority failed to provide the
medical records of a female patient
who died at the San Fernando
General Hospital (SFGH) ten years
In dismissing a medical negli-
gence lawsuit brought against the
South West Regional Health
Authority (SWRHA), Justice Frank
Seepersad expressed disapproval at the SWRHA s
actions, or lack thereof.
Roy Caesar sued the SWRHA after his youngest
daughter, Esla Caesar, 25, the mother of one, died on
September 13, 2004, at the SFGH four days after an
operation to remove a tumour in her brain.
The surgery was a success, Caesar said in his affidavit
but he claimed negligence in the post-care treatment.
The father of four, who lives in Tobago, said his
daughter developed gangrene in her toes and died
He blamed negligent post-operative care for his
daughter developing the conditions which led to her
sudden and unexpected death, which, he said, had
caused grief and trauma to the family, including her
son, then three.
Despite several efforts over the last six years, the
father said he did not get a single medical report from
In delivering judgment in the San Fernando High
Court, the judge said there was insufficient evidence.
He said the medical records would have helped
determine the nature of the treatment given to Caesar
in relation to her surgery and development of any
Saying the court felt constrained to comment on
the SWRHA s conduct, he said:
"The defendant failed, refused and/or neglected to
furnish the claimants with any documentation with
respect to the treatment afforded to the deceased.
"The defendant discharges a public function where
free medical care is afforded to citizens.
In such a circumstance, there must be
an obligation to discharge its functions
efficiently and effectively and there
must always be public accountabili-
"Any documentation in relation to
the deceased s treatment ought to have
been disclosed and if the documen-
tation was misplaced or lost, then
attempts ought to have ben made to
contact and obtain statements from
the doctors and nurses who treated
He added: "Public officials and functionaries must
always be accountable for their actions. The Ministry
of Health would be well advised to conduct an inquiry
into this matter and the course adopted in this matter
ought never to be repeated."
However, the judge said the claimants failed to lead
the requested evidence to support their case and could
have tried to obtain information from the neurosurgeon
who did the surgery.
Having considered the history of the case, the lack
of assistance and information from SWRHA, including
the failure to file witness statements, the judge made
no order for costs.
The claimants were represented by attorney Roger
Kawalsingh and Lisa Francis. The SWRHA was rep-
resented by Andre Rajkumar.
Verdict upsets family
Speaking with reporters outside the court, Caesar
said he was totally dissatisfied with the judgment.
He complained that the family s attempts to get
the medical records from the four public hospitals ---
Scarborough, San Fernando, Mt Hope and Port-of-
He said he was totally unhappy and might consider
appealing the ruling.
Contacted yesterday for comment, SWRHA CEO
Anil Gosine said he was not aware of the matter and
said he had to speak with the authority s legal adviser
The Emperor Valley Zoo unveiled
its new arrivals to the public yester-
day: Three Bengal tigers (one male,
two females) and two lionesses.
At the zoo yesterday, the animals
played with each other. They are being
housed in three temporary separate
enclosures between the ocelots and
lions habitats, as their permanent enclo-
sure is still under construction.
One of the lionesses and two of the
tigers, including the male, are white.
The zookeepers came out to feed the
animals soon after they were unveiled
to the media and this brought on com-
petitiveness between the tigers. They
each eat approximately 20 to 30 kilos
of meat a day.
They arrived in Trinidad on Tuesday
after travelling since Sunday from South
Africa where they were bred in captivity.
They were acquired from Bester Birds
and Animals Zoo Park, Pretoria, for
Mike Bester, the owner of the zoo
park, met Zoological Society staff at a
conference in the US, where they dis-
cussed the possibility of the zoo acquiring
a number of animals.
Bester, who flew in with the animals,
said yesterday they were "very relaxed
with the change of the environment."
He explained: "The tigers may only
look aggressive but they are rather docile
and people-oriented while the lioness
are more timid and less people-oriented."
He said the tigers permanent enclo-
sure would be even bigger than where
they were before.
Bester will be staying in Trinidad for
the balance of the week to make sure
that the animals settle in.
Benjamin de la Rosa, the vice-pres-
ident of the Zoological Society, said there
were plans to bring in other animals,
such as chimpanzees, for a new exhibit
which was under construction.
(See Page A11)
Zoo gets 5 new cats
President of the
Zoological Society of
Trinidad and Tobago,
Gupte Lutchmedial, feeds
one the white Bengal
Tigers which arrived at
the Emperor Valley Zoo,
St Ann's, on Tuesday
during their unveiling to
the public yesterday.
PHOTO: MICHEAL BRUCE
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