Dr. Jorge Polanco says Dr. Kenton Hernandez acted using professional judgment in the case of Valeriano Pop

Dr. Jorge Polanco says Dr. Kenton Hernandez acted using professional judgment in the case of Valeriano Pop

Dr. Kenton Hernandez was the medical practitioner that saw 19-year-old Valeriano Pop at the Independence Polyclinic after the teen was severely burned while setting fire to garbage on January 4. Dr. Hernandez was accused of sending Pop back home after seeing him. After the family complained that Pop’s case was mishandled, the Ministry of Health and Wellness undertook an internal investigation. In the two months since the Ministry appears to agree with Dr. Hernandez’s assessment that he quote “acted professionally and in accordance with the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm and to provide optimal health care to this patient” End quote. Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health at the Ministry, Dr. Jorge Polanco spoke on the matter during a press encounter today. 

Dr.Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services & Allied Health, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “We have that report. He made a decision based on his experience, based on this knowledge, we investigated fully. The last report I had of the patient was that he was abroad nearby Guatemala seeking treatment. I’ve not had a final status of the patient but we concluded that the medical officer made a judgment based on his experience.”

Reporter: But was that judgment questionable ? 

Dr.Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services & Allied Health, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “Well the media questioned it a lot.”

Reporter: So he hasn’t been sanctioned. According to you the explanation he provided is okay.

Dr.Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services & Allied Health, Ministry of Health and Wellness: “Let me put it this way. We did our investigation. We have our reports. We are aware that there is a need to really fine tune the quality of care. Every effort we would take in the Ministry of Health whenever these situations arise we look at the care, we look at case by case, we see where perhaps there were gaps but I cannot really say he was wrong. We got an explanation, there were protocols in place, he based on what he considered was a good judgment. It’s not a situation where we can say it was wrong, it was bad, here you had a problem. The process of diseases, the clinical manifestation of multiple diseases has to do with the nature of the issue. Let’s take a burn in this case the burnt issue what he saw physically made him think on A,B and C. If forty eight hours would have passed and he saw that patient again he would have thought differently and that is the reason why every time at every consultation we always recommend to provide a proper education to the parents or the persons responsible or to the patient saying if you see any changes come back immediately and this is true not only for burn cases is true even for a fever in a child. A fever right now could be just a viral thing that would not go beyond a fever or let us say a child 10 years old it could go as far as an appendicitis a few days after. So then the parents should learn that okay this was my advice I was told to come back if I see any difference come back immediately and I have the impression that that did not happen the way it should have been.”

In his own words, Dr. Hernandez said that Pop’s burns were washed with normal saline solution and cream was placed on the affected areas. Pop was also given diclofenac for the pain and at the time, Pop showed no signs of fever or evidence of hypothermia. Dr. Hernandez added that he stood by his decisions to treat the patient according to an evaluation, observation and past experiences similar to Pop’s case. Pop later sought medical attention in Guatemala and the last update we had on him was that he was progressing well.

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