Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 28th 2014 Contents A6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, April 28, 2014
6.1000 6.2782 6.4665
5.4350 5.7210 6.0357
10.0343 10.5624 11.1328
8.2569 8.6915 9.1695
****** 0.0616 0.0653
2.1167 2.3008 2.4619
* 2.5742 ****** 3.2792
for APRIL 25th 2014
A routine surgery to insert a shunt to
drain cerebrospinal fluid from the brain
of Agatha Colina has left the 61-year-old
woman horribly scared, unable to move
her limbs, eat or swallow, her family
Colina s daughter, Roxanne Lawrence-
Owen, is now demanding answers and jus-
tice from authorities at the Eric Williams
Medical Sciences Complex, Mt Hope.
She told the T&T Guardian that her
mother now cannot respond to instructions
or voices and her throat has to be regularly
suctioned as it continually builds up with
mucus which could choke her.
Lawrence-Owen said while her mother
was hospitalised she developed a sacral ulcer
on her lower back, the size of a fist. The
flesh around the ulcer rotted and it was so
deep you could see Colina s bone.
In an interview with the T&T Guardian,
Lawrence-Owen said a formal complaint
was made to the hospital on April 23 and
the family is now contemplating hiring an
In recounting the events, Lawrence-Owen
said her mother was diagnosed with a brain
tumour and admitted to the hospital on
January 25. Three days later it was removed.
Lawrence-Owen said her mother recov-
ered well and when she came out of the
anaesthetic she was laughing and chatting
with family members.
But a few days later it was discovered the
spinal fluid was not drying up and was pre-
venting the incision point from healing.
"Her doctor was concerned about her
getting an infection and strongly advised
that a shunt be installed to divert the fluid
from the wound.
"Mom continued to improve and even
started physiotherapy to start walking, except
for the leak of spinal fluid. After observing
her for about a week, there was no improve-
ment in the leak and we were advised the
procedure to install the shunt would be
done on February 8," Lawrence-Owen said.
She said the family was told this was not
a high risk procedure and was considered
routine. The surgery, which was approxi-
mately two hours, was done on February
"We arrived at the hospital after 4 pm
for visiting hours. We were very surprised
to find her unresponsive and very different
from the major surgery she did a week ago,"
"Her doctor was contacted to find out if
anything occurred during surgery that was
causing her lack of response and we were
"After further probing we were told that
another doctor had done the procedure. We
weren t happy about this and would have
preferred to have been notified about this
She said a CT scan was done to determine
if the shunt was installed correctly and if
there was anything visible that was causing
the lack of response.
The family was then told nothing was
wrong, but the cause of Colina s unrespon-
siveness remained undetermined.
Lawrence-Owen said her mother s bed
was moved closer to the nursing station so
she could be kept under closer observation.
She said February 16 the doctor was again
told Colina was still not responding.
"He said he would be putting her on a
high dose of intravenous antibiotics because
this was a risk with fluid leak. I indicated
that there was an obvious rapid decline in
her condition and he said that the drain is
causing low pressure in her head," Lawrence-
She said on February 21 when she went
to drop off clothes for her mother, she
noticed she was shaking as if getting a
seizure. She said the right side of her mouth
had drooped and her right hand was "turn-
"The doctor on the ward told me they
had given her anti-seizure drugs and would
start her on Dilantin to prevent further
occurrences," Lawrence-Owen said.
Four days later the family was told Colina
had a stroke which left her unable to speak
and swallow. A nasal gastric tube was also
Lawrence-Owen said her mother regularly
experienced spikes of high fever during this
period and was given antibiotics. She added
wet cotton rolls were placed under her arm
Family calls for probe...
Horror brain surgery
and a fan was put directly on her during this period.
"On March 5, we requested mom to be taken off all
the meds because she seemed to not be responding
to them," she said.
"The doctor advised that she appeared to be septic
and that tests would have to be done to confirm. All
antibiotics were stopped on March 6 and the doctor
then said she was not septic.
"She still had the shunt in at this time but this
was removed on March 7. When we visited her the
next day she appeared slightly better but looked as
if she was still experiencing seizures. I asked the
doctor check the catheter and for bed sores."
Lawrence-Owen said on March 19 when she went
to the hospital she noticed her mother was still on
antibiotics. She was told this was because of the high
temperature spikes. She said her mother also appeared
to have an eye infection.
Continues on Page A7
Agatha Colina at the Eric Williams Medical Science Complex after the surgery.
Contacted on the matter, chairman of
the North Central Regional Help
Authority (NCRHA), Dr Shehenaz
Mohammed said, on Friday, the general
manager of nursing and the hospital's
chief executive officer had been notified
of the case.
But she urged people who had
complaints about treatment at the
hospital to immediately lodge
"I am pleading with the public that
anytime they believe they are unjustly
treated, there is a process for
complaints to be lodged," Mohammed
She said a Patient's Complaints Bureau
would be set up at the hospital to
ensure complaints were speedily
processed. The bureau, Mohammed
added, would be fully resourced and run
by quality customer relations officers
who would have direct contact with the
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