Children Dying While Awaiting Heart Surgery at Bustamante Hospital

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An audit of cardiac services at the Bustamante Hospital for Children has confirmed that dozens of children have died while awaiting surgery.

Nationwide News has obtained a copy of the report prepared by one of the country’s medical officers on the state of cardiac services at the country’s only pediatric hospital.

The report says 39-patients at the Bustamante Hospital for Children have died while awaiting surgery between 2010 and 2015.

Of this number, 5 children were awaiting what the report labels as “a second life-saving procedure”.

The report which was completed in August 2015, but is just now coming to public light, says a total of 229 patients were awaiting surgery as at July 2015.

The damning report also says the estimated average waiting time for children in need of heart surgeries is approximately 2-years.

However, the document says some patients have been waiting to undergo heart surgeries since 2010.

The report also suggests that the number of children who’ve died while awaiting surgery could be higher than reported.

This, as children were not included in the death count for a number of factors including if they were patients with complex anatomies that could not be operated on locally due to resource constraints.

Incorrect contact information also prevented the investigating officer from reaching some of the patients.

The report also says that between January 2010 and July 2015, 411 patients received heart surgeries and 382 of them had a favourable outcome.

The report says the anatomy of one child, after the chest was opened, was not amenable to surgery and the patient subsequently died.

The audit also lists overcrowding, equipment shortage and a lack of essential drugs among a slew of constraints hampering the cardiac team in their bid to deliver life-saving treatment and surgery to its patients.

In a statement to the media issued in 2015, the South East Regional Health Authority, which has oversight of the Bustamante Hospital for Children, said they’d received no report indicating that cardiac patients awaiting surgery were dying because the procedure wasn’t done.

An audit was then ordered which now confirms that children were, in fact, dying due to the hospital’s inability to perform life-saving surgery in time.

And, the country’s chief medical officer, Dr Winston Delahaye says he regrets the loss of life.

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Nationwide sources say children are still dying due to delays in getting the much-needed surgeries.

However, Dr Delahaye says he would have to look into the matter.

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In August 2015, the South East regional Authority said the building housing the new cardiac unit on the grounds of the Bustamante Hospital for Children would have been completed by December 2015.

Almost two years later and the cardiac unit is still not operational. But the chief medical officer says the unit is almost ready.

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