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Hands on

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Hands on

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Not good enough!
That’s the verdict of Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s (QEH) consultants on the administration’s recent foray into telemedicine.
What’s more, a senior consultant disagrees with QEH board chairman Reverend Guy Hewitt’s assertion that this measure would ease the problem created with the month-long suspension of cardiologist Dr Richard Ishmael.
The consultants’ reaction was to Hewitt’s contention last Wednesday in a statement to QEH staff and patients that telemedicine – the transfer of medical information through interactive audiovisual media for the purpose of consulting, and sometimes to perform remote medical procedures and examinations – meant the dawning of a new age in patient-centred health care.
In the report on Hewitt’s statement in the DAILY NATION of December 23, he was quoted as saying that Dr Peter Gaskin, a paediatric cardiologist in the United States, consulted with doctors here over the last weekend in examining the cases of young patients with serious heart problems.
Hewitt stated that the use of improved technology, and the new focus on “patient-centred health care” should pave the way for better treatment for patients at the QEH.
However, in a memo written to QEH chief executive officer Dr Dexter James that same day, acting Director of Medical Services Dr Clyde Cave, said the statement on telemedicine “construes a misrepresentation of the situation and is in opposition to the expert medical opinion of consultant staff at your hospital”.
And he contended that the care of children with heart problems at the QEH was in danger since the suspension of Ishmael on 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.
Cave stated: “Please be advised, again, that the current solution of using telemedicine to consult with Dr Peter Gaskin is not an acceptable replacement for the trained hands, ears and judgement of a paediatric cardiologist who can actually manage a patient in person.
“The cardiac health of the children of Barbados in the public service remains in jeopardy. The limited scope of the present telemedicine arrangements, of which we are aware, are inadequate for:
1) highest quality of emergency paediatric cardiac care; and
2) ongoing management of the paediatric out-patient clinic.
Cave noted too, that he had not received a response to his memo sent to the CEO dated December 14 in which he outlined his department’s concern about the fate of at least four critically ill children as well as the 97 other cardiac patients at the QEH who, in the absence of Ishmael’s services, had been deemed at “increased risk of adverse outcomes”.
Meanwhile, the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), in its Christmas message, lamented that the QEH continued to be in the headlines in a negative light.
BAMP stated in part: “We hope and pray that the season of Christmas which is at the focal point of this season, and which is held dear by the Christian faith and championed by priests, would emanate throughout those at the helm of our premier institution, giving them good judgement for wise and just actions.” 
Full story in the SUNDAY SUN: