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Heart care risk

Sanka Price

Heart care risk

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A SENIOR HOSPITAL DOCTOR is warning that with the suspension of lone paediatric cardiologist Dr Richard Ishmael, heart care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has been significantly compromised and the lives of at least four critically ill children are at stake.
 Dr Clyde Cave, the acting head of the Department of Paediatrics, delivered the stark warning in a memorandum issued yesterday to the QEH’s chief executive officer Dr Dexter James, through the director of medical services Dr Delores Lewis.
In it, Cave also expressed concern about the welfare of 97 other cardiac patients at the QEH who, in the absence of Ishmael’s services, have been deemed at “increased risk of adverse outcome”.
“The potential outcomes may be serious and include preventable death from cardiac pathology. This is a retrograde step for our patients and for the children of Barbados,” Cave said.
Ishmael was suspended by the QEH last Wednesday, December 10, essentially for using a hospital letterhead to address a concern involving Dr Alfred Sparman and Minister of Health Donville Inniss. The content of that November 17, 2010 letter is now a matter of litigation between the three.
The letter of suspension said that because Ishmael used a QEH letterhead, which is “an offence as set out at 5.2.1 and 5.2.5 of the Terms of Conditions of Service for the Employees of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital”, he would be “suspended on full pay with immediate effect, pending the outcomeof an internal investigation”.
That enquiry will be conducted on or before January 14, 2011.   
The move against Ishmael was made public in yesterday’s DAILY NATION. QEH chairman Reverend Guy Hewitt was quoted then as saying that “the board offers its assurance that every effort has been taken by the QEH to ensure that patient care is not compromised during this period”.
We were unable to reach him last night for further comment.
As for Cave, he is concerned that without Ishmael a number of services provided by his department will suffer. These include:
1. Consultation to NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) and Ward C8 on critical and paediatric cases.
2. Provision of emergency cardiac studies (e.g ECHO’s) and interventions to NICU, PICU and C8.
3. Supervision of a Paediatric Cardiology Clinic each Tuesday where all public paediatric cardiology cases in Barbados are managed.
4. Liaison with referral hospitals for paediatric cardiology cases which require treatment abroad.
5. Teaching of undergraduate and postgraduate paediatric students and house staff.
6. Reading/verification of paediatric cardiology services.
“Functions 2 through 5 are vital clinical functions and cannot be provided by any other paediatric or cardiology consultants currently at QEH,” Cave emphasized.
Reached last night for a comment on Cave’s concerns, Ishmael said he was instructed by his attorneys to say nothing.