Woman and newborn die in Kerala hospital, family alleges medical negligence

A case has been registered in Thalassery police station for unnatural death and a probe by Thalassery Deputy Superintendent of Police is on.
Woman and newborn die in Kerala hospital, family alleges medical negligence
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Ayisha remembers it precisely. It was at 4.30 am on July 11 that she saw her daughter Shafna for the last time, just before she was taken to a labour room in a private hospital in Kerala’s Kannur district. 60-year-old Aiysha had been waiting eagerly outside the labour room to hold the newborn in her arms. But that never happened, she never got a chance to hold the baby nor did she see her daughter alive again.

32-year-old Shafna -- who is also the mother of two girls -- died hours after the childbirth on July 11. The family based in Kannur’s Thalassery has now alleged that Shafna and the baby died due to medical negligence.

The Kerala State Human Rights Commission has asked Kannur police to start a probe in the matter. A case has been registered in Thalassery police station for unnatural death and the probe is headed by Thalassery Deputy Superintendent of Police.

‘Hospital kept us in dark about complication’

It was on June 10 Shafna, who was nine months pregnant, was admitted to the Josgiri Hospital in Thalassery.

“Standing outside the labour room, I could hear my daughter’s loud cries. But an hour or so afterwards, suddenly she had stopped crying. I thought the baby was born and was waiting for the nurse to come out but nobody came out.” says Ayisha.

According to the family, it was five hours later that a cesarean was performed and the family was not given any updates meanwhile.

“If there were any complications they could have told us but they did not. For hours, we had no knowledge on what was happening to Shafna inside the labour room,” says Shana Sherin, a close relative of Shafna who was at the hospital.

Recalling the incidents, Shafna’s mother Ayisha said, “It was only around 9.30 am, nurses came and said that the baby was large, it was difficult for a normal childbirth and that a cesarean was required. The moment I signed the required forms, Shafna was rushed to the operation theatre that was opposite to the labour room. I could only see her for a split second. Her eyes were closed and she seemed to be unconscious. We didn’t even get a chance to ask the doctor what had happened,” Ayisha says.

An hour later into the C-section, Shafna developed complications and the hospital staff informed the family that she had severe blood loss.

“But even then, they were not giving any information about the baby. When we asked many times, they told us the baby was born and she had complication and was in ventilator support,” says Shana. Though the baby was shifted to another specialist hospital soon, the infant also died on the same day.

“A doctor at the hospital where the baby was taken to, told us that she had internal bleeding,” Shana says.

Talking to TNM, officials of Josgiri Hosptial said that they had initially used vacuum extraction to take the baby out, before the C-Section was done.

The family also alleges that Shafna could have been shifted to another hospital earlier. “For four or five hours after the baby was shifted, Shafna was still in Josgiri hospital. Though we asked if she should be shifted, they said she was not stable. Finally, by around evening, the staff came and told us that her condition has worsened and she should be immediately shifted. But just a few minutes after we took her to MIMS, Shafna died. The doctor there said they could have helped if she was brought in earlier,” said Shana.

Officials of Josgiri Hospital who reacted to the incident, told TNM that Shafna had amniotic fluid embolism, a condition where the amniotic fluid -- the fluid that surrounds a baby in the uterus during pregnancy --  enters the mother's bloodstream, which led to the complication.

“Her uterus was not contracting and she had severe blood loss. We had to provide 9 bottles of blood. We even had to remove the uterus due to this," a spokesperson of Josgiri Hospital said.

She also said that Shafna was not shifted to another specialist hospital as her condition was not stable. “We had called an ambulance from MIMS earlier, but we were waiting as her condition was not good enough to transport her,” the hospital spokesperson said.

The hospital officials also said that they are cooperating with the police probe and have furnished all the documents associated with the case.

The family, however, has said that they believe that this is a case of medical negligence, and will fight against the hospital.

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