Mom wants answers after newborn's death

All Woman

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

In November of 2016, after attending my usual prenatal clinic at the UHWI, the doctor on staff stated that labour was to be induced because my blood pressure was too high. I was told that it was nothing to be worried about and that it was normal procedure. I was asked to sign a consent form giving them permission. I got medication on December 1; however, I didn't start feeling any contractions and I wasn't dilated enough so they gave me more medication. After this I was only checked once, as both nurses on duty at the time were focused on another patient. It wasn't until I started feeling extreme pain that a nurse came to see me, and she then realised I was in labour and I was rushed to the labour ward for delivery. After I gave birth they rushed my son out of the room. They came back about 40 minutes later to say that he had died. I later signed a consent form for an autopsy to be done, but I have had no results as yet. Being a first-time mom, this has really been a difficult time for me. I want to know if I need to consult a lawyer to get somewhere with this. I feel like I won't be able to move on fully until I can know for sure that it was not my fault. Will a lawyer be able to get the hospital to give me a report of what happened?

I am so sorry to learn of the terrible loss of your first child and the events that unfolded during your labour and delivery. Yes, you ought to engage the services of a lawyer, as it has been almost one year since the death of your child and the date when you signed the request and consent for the autopsy to be done. This is an inordinately long time for any grieving mother to be kept waiting for the report of the autopsy performed on the body of her child.

It is inconceivable that the hospital was so indifferent to the effect of the medications they gave you, plus the resulting death of your child, and that they have left you without any kind of explanation or support. What did they write as the cause of death on your child's death certificate? Did they have someone explain it to you? Did they provide some counselling support for you?

You need legal representation to help you obtain satisfactory answers. The lawyer can take legal steps, if necessary, to obtain a copy of the autopsy report for you to see and understand the cause of your baby's death. If the hospital refuses to send the report following a letter of request authorised by you, the lawyer can determine what application can be made to ensure the production of the report by the hospital. I expect that you would provide greater details of your entire ordeal and what was said and by whom, and seek expert medical opinions on whether there was negligence, perhaps because of the additional medication given to you during the induction of your labour.

As I said, you must consult a lawyer so that legal steps can be taken to obtain the results of the autopsy, and you would then be advised whether you have any further cause of action in law. You are entitled to know the truth about what happened to cause the death of your child.

So please engage the services of a lawyer to act for you and give you the means to recover some level of acceptance of the death of your first child. From this knowledge you should find out the true cause of his death, and it can also be determined if the hospital staff was at fault. You are entitled to know this and decide your course of action after you know the truth.

I wish for you all God's blessings, comfort and strength.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.

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