NWRHA not paying for independent experts reviewing NICU deaths

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NWRHA not paying for independent experts reviewing NICU deaths

The North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) says it will not be footing the bill for independent medical experts to review the files of infants who died at the Neonatal ICU (NICU) of the Port-of-Spain General Hospital.

The request was made in a pre-action protocol letter from Freedom Law Chambers.
The attorneys said the parents of the infants were of humble means and could not afford to pay for the private experts themselves.

But, in response, the NWRHA said the request to pay for independent experts was unwarranted as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) conducted an independent investigation into the deaths of seven infants at the NICU.

“In relation to your request made for our client to pay fees of a specialist medical expert to review and analyse the medical notes and prepare a report to advise your clients, it is our client’s position that this request is wholly unwarranted as there is no basis for such a request.”

The request for the NWRHA to foot the bill, which the attorneys said was US$5,000 per child, came after local doctors said they could not review the files as it would be a conflict of interest.

“By adopting such a stance, the NWRHA is in effect, saying to the public that only the rich and powerful can sue for medical negligence in this country because they are the only ones who can afford to hire medical experts to independently analyse and review medical records and produce an expert report for the court,” the lawyers said.

NWRHA has been served with 15 pre-action protocol letters accusing it of negligence in the deaths of 19 infants.

A PAHO three-member team sent to investigate the seven deaths completed their investigations last Friday and will submit a report. Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh said the report will be made public when it is completed and submitted.