Fuvahmulah Atoll Hospital has denied allegations of negligence in a series of medical incidents including a case of stillbirth and the recent death of a soldier on the island.
The hospital’s statement came in response to comments by Fuvahmulah Atoll Councilor Hussain Saeed, in which he blamed the hospital’s management and Health Minister Dr Mariyam Shakeela for “worsening conditions” at the hospital.
On May 31, a gynecologist at Fuvahmulah Atoll Hospital suspended a caesarean on a pregnant woman halfway through the surgery. That same night, the gynecologist refused to perform a caesarean on another pregnant woman after the fetus died in the womb. The patient’s family said the doctor had cited lack of obstetric gel to ease birth.
The following day, a soldier died of a heart attack while playing football on Fuvahmulah. Then on June 3, the family of a three-year-old told local media that doctors at the Fuvahmulah Hospital had given the child a wrong injection.
However, Fuvahmulah Hospital has denied any wrongdoing in the four cases and condemned the council’s comments saying they are “deeply saddened to note that the Fuvahmulah Atoll Council’s press conference on these incidents spread falsehoods and incited fear among the public.”
At a press conference at the President’s Office today, officials from the Health Ministry also defended the Fuvahmulah Hospital, but said investigations were underway to see if any negligence had occurred.
Speaking to the press in Malé yesterday, Saeed and five other councilors from the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) expressed concern over lack of doctors and medical supplies, and the quality of medical care at the hospital.
“We previously thought the Fuvahmulah Hospital was not cooperating with the Health Minister in implementing the government’s health policies. But when things at the Fuvahmulah Atoll Hospital drop to this level, it shows Health Minister Shakeela has been negligent in implementing President Yameen’s health policies,” Saeed said.
Councillors said there were 123 pregnant women on Fuvahmulah at present. The island has a population of 13,000, of which 700 are children.
Although a neonatal ICU has been opened on the island, the facility does not have a pediatrician, Saeed said.
He noted a lack of medical equipment and supplied on the island stating: “There are only two thermometers in the hospital. Doctors and nurses only have two machines to check blood pressure.”
“Doctors [told us] when they ask the management for chemicals, the management told them to make do with what is available,” he continued.
Doctors also said the management shut down any initiative to improve facilities, Saeed said.
“When Fuvahmulah doctors take initiatives to improve facilities at the hospital, Fuvahmulah hospital’s administrative officer threatens doctors and tell them not to speak about the hospital. [Doctors said] they are made to work overtime, but overtime remuneration is cut from their salaries,” Saeed said.
In a statement today, the Fuvahmulah Hospital explained that the first pregnant woman had arrived at the hospital for a routine check up, but was hospitalised when the doctor noticed the fetus’ heartbeat was too fast.
The gynecologist scheduled a caesarean with the family’s consent, but suspended the surgery after making an incision. A pediatrician and a second gynecologist were brought from neighboring Addu City hospital to complete the surgery.
The operation was completed successfully and no harm was caused to either the mother or child, the hospital said.
Speaking to the press at the President’s Office today, gynecologist Dr Hawwa Hana said the Fuvahmulah doctor followed the correct procedures.
“From our observations it appears [the doctor] during the surgery noticed issues that could endanger the mother that they had not noticed before,” she said.
“The placenta was at an unusually low position, and because of this there were changes to the mother’s veins, and the doctor suspected it may cause complications such as excessive bleeding. They decided not to remove the baby and wait for additional help from another team from Addu,” she said.
The Fuvahmulah Hospital said they also had not detected any negligence in the stillbirth case.
The pregnant woman had been hospitalised at 10:30pm on May 31 when the gynecologist noticed the baby’s pulse declining during a checkup. The fetus died in the womb, and the doctor opted for a natural birth.
When the baby was delivered at dawn the next day, doctors found the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck, the hospital said.
Hana went into further detail stating that the doctor did not have the opportunity to save the baby before the pulse dropped.
“With the baby’s death, the highest priority is the mother’s life. And so instead of a surgery, a normal delivery was recommended,” she said.
Fuvahmulah Atoll Councilor Hussain Saeed said Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) Corporal Abdulla Nazmee had not received any emergency care when he collapsed while playing football. The hospital’s ambulance arrived on the scene with just a driver and no emergency care facilities, he said.
The Fuvahmulah Hospital, however, said the doctor had not detected a pulse when Nazmee was brought to the hospital.
“But this hospital’s doctors and nurses tried to see another way. We would like to note emergency response injections and facilities are available at this hospital,” the statement read.
The hospital also said the three-year-old who is said to have received the wrong injection in fact received an antibiotics injection. The child’s condition did not decline because of the injection, the hospital said, adding that the child is now doing well.