NASSAU, BAHAMAS —The Public Hospital’s Authority (PHA) has declined to provide any data on how many people have died as a result of negligence following a number of allegations in recent months.
Eyewitness News, through email and phone communication with its public relations department, has made numerous requests that were all denied.
The information sought included inquiries on how many official complaints had been made, how many cases were settled in and out of court, the total amounts that had to be paid out to families, how many cases are pending a determination, and the process and/or disciplinary action when medical personnel is found at fault.
In response to the latest request, Eyewitness News was told: “Due to the nature of your request, we are unable to provide this specific information to you at this time.”
Last week, PHA reportedly completed an investigation into the death of Kenise Darville, who died in hospital on January 19. From her hospital bed, she alleged negligence on the part of doctors and health care workers who she claimed failed to notify her at a reasonable time of her need to make a public appeal for blood.
Her husband, Jared Darville, told Eyewitness News that he was informed by PHA officials that they found “irregularities” in the treatment provided to his wife by health care officials. He said, however, that the report did not name any healthcare worker.
“Who are the doctors and consultants responsible?” he said.
“Are they being allowed to continue to practice? What type of disciplinary action is being taken against them? How can they ensure that this will not happen again?”
“If this is the best care that they told me my wife was getting…. don’t get sick.”
The latest allegation levied against PHA prompted Organization for Responsible Governance (ORG) executive director Matthew Aubry to make an urgent appeal for the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
“It’s a crucial resource in establishing accountable government services. This gives citizens a better perspective of why a decision has been made, why their money has been spent in a certain way and creates a vehicle for not only a level of scrutiny but also potential support in their ideas and thoughts that there is information that has been analyzed outside of government perspective,” Aubry said.
He stressed that in this instance, statistical information on complaints and deaths can bring about solutions or shed light on issues that need to be addressed.
“Research shows that by having that interplay, services have become more effective and efficient. Things like healthcare affect all of us. There are areas that need to be developed and focused less on reactive services,” Aubry pointed out.
Earlier this year, a Supreme Court judge found a doctor negligent during the prenatal care and delivery of a stillborn baby in 2012.
In a written ruling dated January 19, 2023, Justice Charles concluded the mother had cited plausible evidence that a local doctor “fell below the standard accepted by a body of medical opinion” is not delivering the baby alive.
It was just one of the few cases involving negligence that Eyewitness News was able to find any information on.
Aubry says this type of information is critical.
“We have worked on an initiative called Citizens Charter, which has been used in several different countries that allows a two-way dialogue between citizens and the government services that they use,” Aubry said.
“It’s not only effective for persons making complaints but can absolve parties of complaints against them. It works two ways.”
Darville is also calling for FOIA to be enacted and put to “good use.”
“Failing that, we fail ourselves,” he said.
In the back-and-forth communication with the PHA, officials, while declining to provide any responses to the questions posed, opted to invite Eyewitness News to a discussion.