'Sent home to die'

Woman accuses hospital of negligence but KPH says no record of visit

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

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ONE woman is convinced that she was sent home to die earlier this year after visiting the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) for treatment.

When Dionne Brown awoke on May 2, she noticed she had a limp and was unable to control the movement of her right limbs after a bout of diarrhoea and dizziness. She took her mother's advice and rushed to the Kingston hospital.

However, the 52-year-old woman's hope of receiving a diagnosis and treatment was dashed, as she was sent back to her Stony Hill, St Andrew home with a few tablets and no information about her condition.

Brown, who was later told by a private doctor that she had suffered a minor stroke, had gone to KPH that night armed with her overnight bag, as she had expected to be hospitalised since she has a medical history of heart failure and stroke.

“You see when mi a go home, mi say to mi mother, 'Mommy, dem a send me home go dead', and she say, 'Nuh bodda think bout that because only God can help you now; just go home go pray', and that's what I did,” said Brown.

The hospital has since said there is no record of her visit on that date.

When contacted by the Jamaica Observer, Senior Medical Officer Dr Natalie Whylie said after making checks and looking at the patient's file, there was no record of her being present at the hospital at that time.

When quizzed as to whether it wasn't the norm to keep a record of everyone who visits the facility for medical reasons, she said in some instances where the patient goes directly to the emergency ward, it might not be recorded immediately but the information would later be added to the patient's file.

As it relates to a doctor checking a patient's file, Dr Whylie said it would not be possible for doctors to access patients' dockets in the night. However, she promised to contact the patient and carry out an investigation.

During an interview with the Observer recently, Brown registered her disappointment and shock at the “unprofessional and uncaring” manner in which she was attended to at the hospital, which she said could have resulted in her death.

“When a person go in [to the hospital] not feeling well, feeling like dem deh on the last and not feeling right in dem head, and walking funny, and dem not even 'sound' you (listen to the action of someone's heart or breathing) to find out what is wrong.

“Dem nuh supposed to send you home like that; dem supposed to run some tests to find out what is causing it,” Brown lamented. “This is what happen when dem send home people like this, some a dem dead and you nuh hear anything about it. Dem supposed to take charge, that is what they are there for, and to serve the public. And when you are feeling sick, they should take care of you and tell you what is wrong with you.”

Additionally, she said the doctors need to be more attentive and caring, as they are there to tend to the sick.

“The one who attended to me had some attitude problem, and some of them, they were on their phones. Sometimes it's like they are not listening and I was not pleased with the service I got,” an emotional Brown continued.

She also said: “It is unacceptable for a doctor to tell me that she doesn't know what is happening to me without even trying to find out what is happening to me.”

The entrepreneur explained that on the day of the incident, she started having diarrhoea at work, fell asleep shortly after getting home, as she had also been dizzy.

Brown said when she woke up around 11:00 pm, she realised that she had a limp.

“Mi walk but with a little limp and is like that foot nuh have no life, even now a so it feel. Mi hand is like dem nuh have no sense of direction, if mi ago pick up something here so, is like a over there so me a put mi hand,” she said, pointing to another direction.

The fashion designer said she was also feeling uneasy and dizzy, and told her mom, Joyce Brown, who instructed that she visit the doctor. Her mother accompanied her.

Soon after they arrived at the hospital, she was quickly attended to by a nurse who Brown said took her “vitals, pressure and sugar level”.

Brown said she then waited a short time and went to see a doctor whose name she did not get, however she said the young doctor started giving her “an attitude” after telling her it was not her turn, but Brown explained that she was next.

“A from that time the doctor start giving me attitude and she never even sound me to see if my heart rate is alright or anything, all she do is look at the paper and give me a prescription for some tablets and say, 'Ms Brown, I am sending you home'.

“So then I said to her, 'What happen to me, doctor?' but she didn't answer,” Brown related.

“Why am I walking like this doctor because I wasn't walking like this before,” Brown said she further asked the doctor, who simply told her that she did not know, without any further explanation.

According to Brown, in that moment she felt very dejected and close to tears, but her mother told her to remain calm. They then left the hospital and went home.

However, Brown said: “I couldn't sleep the night because of how I felt, and my foot just had this tingling feeling.”

For the next three days, Brown said she remained at home, still feeling ill.

“I was feeling weak and nuh have the energy to do anything, and the foot was just annoying because I couldn't stand up long to do anything. If I stand up too long, it started to dip, even now it is still happening a bit,” she explained to the Observer.

The 52-year-old further explained that she can no longer walk to work, and has to be travelling via taxi in the mornings.

A few days after her visit to KPH, Brown said she went to a private doctor in Stony Hill who told her, as she had suspected, that she had had a small stroke. That doctor prescribed medication for Brown, but she said it did not help. Instead, Brown said she experienced an excruciating pain across her forehead when she took the pills, which continued even after she lowered the dosage, so she revisited the doctor. The medical doctor instructed her to continue taking the medication and also requested that she have a blood test done.

“Every time I get sick, a [KPH] mi go. Mi get a heart failure, a [KPH] mi go. Mi get a stroke, a [KPH mi go],” she said, adding that she had done a computed tomography (CT) scan that indicated she had suffered three strokes.

“I only knew about two [of them], so this would be the fourth one,” Brown pointed out.

According to her, if the doctor that she saw at KPH had looked at her file, she would have seen her medical history and might have handled the situation differently.

“When you nuh have no money a hell enuh, because dem say accessing health care at KPH [is] free,” she added.

She told the Observer that she was surprised at the treatment she received at the hospital on May 2.

“I always go there and they always do what them supposed to do. If mi fi do test, they send me to do it. And if dem fi admit mi, dem do it because majority of the times I go there them admit me,” Brown said.

The seamstress said, too, that she had her first stroke five years ago, but doctors have still not been able to identify the cause.


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