Belmont mom threatens to sue NWRHA for negligence over newborn’s death

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Belmont mom threatens to sue NWRHA for negligence over newborn’s death

A 30-year-old Belmont mother is the latest to threaten suit against the North-West Regional Health Authority, after her newborn baby died at Port of Spain General Hospital following what she claims is negligence on the part of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Rae-Ann Francis, 30, of Upper St Francois Valley Road, Belmont, has filed a pre-action protocol letter through Freedom Law Chambers, following the death of her baby girl, who is the 12th known neonatal death this year.

The claim said that Francis gave birth to a baby girl, by Caesarian section, on February 28. The baby, Yusraa Assing, died on April 22.

Francis, a learning support assistant, and her 36-year-old husband, Omri Assing, a secondary school teacher, were first-time parents.

The baby girl was born at a gestational age of 29 weeks and two days and weighed 1.3 kilogrammes (two pounds 14 ounces), with her AGPAR score of 8.5.

“For our client, the pain is profound and unrelenting. She and her husband had always harboured thoughts of pursuing a claim for medical negligence, even if their daughter had survived. Our client’s desire for justice goes beyond personal closure and she and her husband want to prevent other parents from enduring a similar fate. The brokenness of the public healthcare system, where the death of their daughter was not properly addressed, fuels their determination to hold the NWRHA accountable for its negligence. Our client and her husband refuse to let their baby’s death be swept under a rug,” stated the legal letter.

The mother claimed that the doctor explained to her that because the baby was pre-term at 29 weeks and two days and because the infant was small in size, she needed to be placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

Baby Yusraa was placed on the ventilator for breathing support out of an abundance of caution and doctors told the mother she (the baby) was being treated for jaundice.

The mother stated in the claim that the infant had “good movement, was breathing well, passing stools and her feeding was steadily increasing by the day”.

“She felt encouraged when the doctors informed her baby would be discharged as soon as she reached 2.5 kilogrammes and was able to latch on to the breast for feeding. Around March 15, the baby was completely off the ventilator and moved from intensive care to the other part of the NICU, namely the step-down area. Each day our client kept counting down the days her baby would get discharged. Her weight was gradually increasing and so too were her feeds. The doctors assured the parents that the baby was stable, active, and growing,” the claim stated.

Francis also said on or around April 5, she observed another baby in the step-down area and the doctors and nurses were very cautious and began wearing gloves and gowns.

She claimed that she learned the other baby was hospitalised due to a bacterial infection, having been hospitalised from a private nursing home.

“She was also concerned about the possibility of the risk of transmission as the baby was very ill and the same nurses were caring for other babies without wearing any proper protective wear and sanitisation. Nevertheless, she and her husband remained focused on their baby, anxious for her to be discharged,” the claim stated.

Francis said in the claim that on April 8 she was informed that she needed to purchase a blood filter for $800, which was acquired and the blood filter was used on her infant.

She further stated that her infant’s health declined, so much so that the baby flatlined and was resuscitated by the doctors.

The mother claimed the doctors later informed her that baby Yusraa was suspected of having pneumonia, and despite several different antibiotics being administered, the baby did not respond positively to any.

“From April 13 to 21, the baby’s health took a sharp turn for the worse, and the parents spent their days praying for their baby and talking to her, but they couldn’t help but notice the stark changes in her demeanour,” the claim said.

Despite their hopes of a miraculous recovery, the baby’s movements became limited, and she lost her usual liveliness. Her cries also grew fainter by the day.

“She and her husband felt immense sadness and helplessness as they watched their precious baby deteriorate before their eyes,” the claim stated.

“The parents, in a heart-wrenching decision, chose not to prolong their baby’s suffering and consented to a ‘do not resuscitate’ order. A doctor also updated the parents at this time that the baby’s veins were collapsing and that it was only a matter of time,” it stated. “The parents received a phone call from the hospital on April 22 at approximately 2.11 a.m. that their baby had slipped away minutes earlier.”

The claim also stated that an autopsy was done and the cause of death on the death certificate was listed as “Intraventricular haemorrhage presumed sepsis under evaluation prematurity”.

Francis is claiming negligence from the staff and/or agents of the NWRHA.

She is seeking damages, interest, costs and any further relief the court deems fit in the circumstances.