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GPHC to boost training in rare pregnancy complication

Doctors and nurses of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) are to receive further training in a rare pregnancy complication that claimed the lfi

25-year old Fadhna Dutchin died on September 28 of what the hospital said was “peri partum cardiomyopathy.”

“In response to Ms. Dutchin’s death, the doctors and nurses at GPHC will have additional training in this rare complication to help them be increasingly vigilant, in the hope that they may detect if a woman develops the disease earlier,” said the GPHC in a statement.

The health service provider also announced that the Ministry of Health’s Maternal Mortality Review committee was “also reviewing this case and GPHC welcomes their feedback.”

Following is the full text of the GPHC’s statement

The Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), the Nation’s provider of Health Services, has noted an article in the Stabroek News of October 08, 2013 under the caption – Family accuses GPH of inadequate care after young mother’s death.

All the staff at GPHC was very saddened by the recent maternal death of Ms. Fadhna Dutchin. Every maternal death is a tragedy and everyone at GPHC is acutely sensitised to this. Everyone in administration and on the maternity ward is working tirelessly to improve services, remove any room for errors and prevent further deaths. And so, while it does not compare to the grief felt by the family and friends of these women, each death is painfully felt by all our staff. Each death is thoroughly reviewed by the administration as well as doctors and nurses of the Obstetric ward and any other department involved, to identify where problems occurred so they can be resolved and prevent them from happening again.

In the case of Ms. Dutchin it appears that the medical care she received during her initial admission was completely appropriate and there was no way to predict she would suffer the complications she did. Ms. Dutchin died of a rare complication known as peri partum cardiomyopathy. Statistics for Guyana are not available but in the USA, for example, it affects 1 in 4000 women who give birth. Scientists are not sure why the complication occurs but it results in the heart muscle becoming very weak, floppy and ineffective. The chambers of the heart dilate, becoming much larger than normal. Because the blood is not pumped effectively, it can pool in these chambers and form large clots that can then shoot off into the lungs, as pulmonary embolisms, causing chest complications and difficulty in breathing. Unfortunately these are the complications that led to Ms. Dutchin’s death.

Peri partum cardiomyopathy sometimes develops in the later stages of pregnancy but usually occurs in the weeks to months (up to 5 months) following birth. When it does occur, it is extremely difficult to treat. Traditionally, as many as one third to one half of women required a heart transplant and today, even in hospitals with every available resource, one in four women die. Ms. Dutchin was thoroughly reviewed by our doctors every day following her delivery and at no stage were there any signs or symptoms of cardiomyopathy. It appears that, like most of the women who develop this complication, it developed in the weeks following her delivery, after she went home. When Ms Dutchin returned to GPHC her diagnosis was made immediately. She was treated by a team of specialists and soon transferred to the ICU where she could get the best care available. But unfortunately, despite the intensive care, her heart and lungs were already too damaged and she died 5 days later.

In response to Ms. Dutchin’s death, the doctors and nurses at GPHC will have additional training in this rare complication to help them be increasingly vigilant, in the hope that they may detect if a woman develops the disease earlier. The Ministry of Health Maternal Mortality Review committee is also reviewing this case and GPHC welcomes their feedback.

We would like to remind the public that there are many complications affecting pregnancy before, during and after the birth. If you have a loved one who is pregnant or recently gave birth and becomes unwell, please carry her to be seen by a doctor as soon as possible.