A physician assistant at the Upper East Regional Hospital is reported to have declared a child dead, unaware the infant was only in “coma” and, even after the baby reportedly jerked back to life, insisted the boy was dead and dispatched the body to the morgue.
Grieving relatives are spitting mad over the boy’s ‘premature death’ and said to be considering a legal action against the hospital as a dumbstruck regional police command commences investigations and an angered public awaits the outcome.
Starr News gathered the child, Cleophas Azubila Yenisongma, was taken ill with an undisclosed condition and was rushed to the hospital where he was admitted on Sunday. A police report says the physician assistant, whose name authorities at the hospital only mentioned to Starr News as Dr Tony, “clinically” pronounced the child dead whilst receiving treatment.
But moments after the sobbing relatives had arrived at home with the body for burial, they purportedly detected the boy was still breathing. Without a second thought, they rushed the child back to the hospital in the hope that, with further care, he would get well.
But then again Dr Tony, per the facts the police picked, insisted the baby was dead and instructed a mortuary attendant to deposit the body at the morgue for preservation without the consent of the child’s family. The hospital’s authorities admitted there was argument between the clinician and the family— one side asserting that the child was alive and the other insisting that he was dead— as the mortuary attendant concentrated on the job he had been instructed to do.
The regional hospital has come under intense pressure from the family who holds a very strong view that their child did not die until the boy, on the doctor’s instructions, was wheeled on a trolley into the morgue and kept inside the cold and dark dead house.
Hospital blames the incident on lack of communication
Giving its side of the story, the hospital’s management did not counter the physician assistant’s declaration but also did not excuse how the distraught family was handled.
“Apparently, the prescriber saw the child and he declared dead. Then, when they went home, the head of family was called. So, he thought that the child had life in him. That’s about three hours later. So, he brought the child back and met the same person. But apparently, the clinician called a colleague. The colleague came and examined and said that the child was dead. But we thought that the communication was also not good. It was the communication that was not apt, because this was a family in distress and we thought he (the physician assistant) could have done better with the communication.
“The child’s father is actually a policeman. After the other clinician came and examined and confirmed that the child was not alive, he should have informed the family. That is why the family was not satisfied with the response. We agree with the parents and we apologised. Ultimately, we cannot tell who is right or who is wrong. But we expected that we could have communicated better to the family when the family had their doubts,” the hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr Patrick Atobrah, told Starr News on Wednesday.
Asked if a physician assistant is qualified to declare a patient dead, the Medical Superintendent told Starr News: “This is an experienced physician assistant who has been around for the past eight or so years. He is very well experienced. He’s been in the hospital all these years. Physician assistants can declare a person clinically dead especially in our setting where the doctors are fewer— very, very few. They can.”
It was difficult to immediately establish contact with the bereaved relations for more details about their stance on their four-month-old baby gone too soon where they had hoped his life could have been saved.