Investigation Clears Northern Regional Hospital of Neglect Allegations

Investigation Clears Northern Regional Hospital of Neglect Allegations

The Ministry of Health and Wellness had ordered that an investigation be launched into allegations of neglect at the Northern Regional Hospital (NRH).  Over the weekend, a video began circulating on social media where it was alleged that a woman who was suffering from severe chest pains went hours without being attended to. The investigation was held, and according to Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health, the situation was a misunderstanding.  He added that the ministry has documented proof that the woman was seen shortly after being assessed by the triage nurse.

Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health: “I was there this morning along with another senior officer, the Deputy Director of Hospital services and we met with the management team of Orange Walk to get details as to really what happened in this regard. The patient was there and the video depicted that she was suffering from a heart pain as they classified it in Spanish dolor de corazon but in reality it was not that. But the important issue is that it appeared that she had not been seen by anybody and she was suffering there with her pain. There was a nurse who was in charge for the triage function who had already mad contact with this lady. She assessed her, she even saw the bandage that he had in her back because earlier in the afternoon of that same day she had had a minor procedure, a minor surgery on her back that was done with local anesthesia so the patient went out walking immediately after the procedure and it so happened that at night the patient returned with pain. The nurse assessed her and then she recognized that it was a pain secondary to the procedure that she had earlier in the afternoon. So she told her to wait a few minutes, that was eight o’clock according to our health information system our computerized health information system that was eight o’clock and then the nurse already knew then that she was outside. At 8:04 she came out to look for her and she was taken into the treatment room and her pain was addressed. She was given two injections, intramuscularly one to prevent nausea and the other one for the pain directly for the pain and she was released not knowing that the video had already been taken between eight o’clock contact with the nurse and 8:04 when she was called in.”

Dr. Polanco said that waiting time is a recurring issue in hospitals all over the country. He stressed that while everyone wants to be seen immediately, patients are prioritized due to the severity of their conditions.

Dr. Jorge Polanco, Director of Hospital Services and Allied Health: “It really reflected a perception by the public that she was not being managed, that she was not being attended to which in reality was not the case. She had been seen and she was told to wait a few minutes. The issue of waiting time always comes up not only in Northern Regional Hospital but sometimes in other hospitals. There is a context when it comes to waiting time. For example – and this is the case for the Northern Region – when you are at the out patient sitting and you are assessed by the doctors or the nurse or both and then you are told ‘you know you need to go over to emergency, this is something that needs to be addressed right now and it will be addressed there.’ So you would come and you would wait and if you add the time that you were already waiting at the out patient setting you might say ‘Wow I’ve been here for three hours.’ and the reality is that emergency like every emergency hospital in every part priority are given to emergencies and in the case of Northern Region you are aware of the increasing demand of patients who end up there with external injuries either road traffic accident, gun shots or stab wounds etc etc. that those are emergencies that need to be attended at the moment and that is what was happening. So during that period of four minutes somebody really did not have a clear situation of the reality and decided to put this video which really gave a wrong picture of what had really transpired.”

The Ministry of Health and Wellness also issued a statement, saying that all allegations of patient neglect are taken seriously and that it condemns any such neglect of patients.

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