Court orders doctor to pay damages

The original article can be found in: Trinidad Guardian

A gynaecologist has been ordered to pay damages for the death of a woman while giving birth to her fourth child nine years ago. In his 61-page judgment, Justice Ricky Rahim ordered Dr Kong Sheik Achong Low to pay damages to Karen Lezama’s husband, Brian Lezama, who filed the negligence lawsuit. However, Rahim said: “Medical practitioners bear the unenviable task  oftentimes of managing the fragility of human life under tremendous pressure and dynamic circumstances. “They must at all times act by adhering to the accepted practice in their area of speciality even under the most dire circumstance.”

According to the facts presented in the case, Karen died on April 6, 2003, almost 12 hours after she was admitted to Stanley’s Nursing Home. Lezama testified that his wife had gestational diabetes and was a “known bleeder.” Karen’s mother, Margaret D’Hereaux, in her evidence, said her daughter managed her condition and was in good health. Achong Low said he was not aware of Karen’s condition and did not know of complications during her three other pregnancies. Lezama claimed Achong Low failed to do blood investigations on his wife and failed to have enough blood on hand at the clinic, considering his wife’s condition. “It is more likely than not that the omission to administer more blood and blood products in a timely fashion resulted in the death of Karen due to post-partum haemorrhage,” Rahim said.

In his ruling, Rahim rejected Achong Low’s claim that an infusion of more blood would not have made a difference in Karen’s case. Rahim ordered that the damages, which will be paid to the victim’s husband, should be calculated by a High Court Master on a day to be determined. Achong Low was also ordered to pay Lezama’s legal costs for the claim. “In conclusion, the court appreciates the herculean responsibility with which Achong Low was confronted without notice,” he said. Lezama was represented by Senior Counsel Stanley Marcus and attorney Patricia Dindial. Stuart Young and Anthony Bullock appeared for Achong Low.

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