Writ filed against HSA

Eight claims pending

A writ of summons alleging that a medical procedure at the Cayman Islands Hospital on 4 June, 2010, was performed negligently has been filed against the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority and visiting doctor Halda Shaw of Kingston Jamaica. 

The procedure allegedly left Adelette House, 32, with “complete paralysis of the right facial nerve and facial asymmetry,” according to the writ. 

The statement of claim in the document sets out that the Health Services Authority owed the plaintiff a direct and non-delegable duty of care, in contract and tort, while she was a patient receiving care in their facility and “in discharging its duty to the plaintiff, was and is vicariously responsible for the acts and omissions of its staff and all others whom it delegated the discharge of its responsibilities (including Dr. Shaw)”. 

Pursuant to an agreement made on 22 November, 2009, Dr. Shaw signed on to work as a visiting oral surgeon on an as-needed basis. The writ contends that while treating the plaintiff, he also owed her duty of care, according to Law. 

On September 2009, during the course of investigations for headaches, the plaintiff underwent an ultrasound scan of her neck and parotid gland, which showed a “solid lesion of the right parotid with a necrotic centre.” 

Fine needle biopsy of the parotid revealed a benign tumour of the salivary glands. 

After being referred to an ear nose and throat specialist at the Cayman Islands, the plaintiff was sent to Dr. Shaw. 

On 3 March, 2010, the plaintiff had her first consultation with Dr. Shaw at the Cayman Islands Hospital. At that time she was 35-36 weeks pregnant. She was told that it would be best to remove the tumour, which would take about one to two hours to do. The fee for the procedure was $7,067.15. 

Following the procedure on 4 June, bleeding was noted upon initial wound closure. It was opened and closed again. However, as bleeding was still noted, the wound was reopened again the bleeding was ligated.  

The writ claims that there is no record of the facial nerve being identified during the process of stopping the bleeding. It states that “During the course of the procedure, the surgeon placed sutures through and around the facial nerve. The plaintiff thereby suffered a dense right facial nerve paralysis. The following day she was seen to have a facial palsy.” 

The writ states that it is the plaintiff’s case that proper identification and preservation of the facial nerve is basic surgical principal when performing parotid gland surgery. It contends that the defendants are in breach of duty in contract and tort. 

The writ asserts that in normal circumstances, one would expect a swift recovery from such a surgery, with return to work within 10-14 days, 

To date, the plaintiff has undergone several follow up procedures at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston, USA, which indicated that, “sutures we found to have been put through and around the nerve……The sutures were removed.” A platinum weight was also found to be placed in the upper eyelid. “She has since been diagnosed with astigmatism due to the weight of the eyelid,” according to a statement in the writ, which also contends that the plaintiff’s ability to eat, sleep, speak and breath normally have been compromised.” 

“She is acutely aware of here appearance and is greatly distressed by it,” read the writ, which added that spontaneous improvement of the paralysis is now unlikely……Full symmetry and function will never be achieved.”  

The plaintiff has not been able to return to her job as a sales assistant at Federal Express. She is represented by the Thorp Alberga law firm. 

There are eight other claims for medical malpractice against the Health Services Authority that have not yet made it to court, according to information provided to the Caymanian Compass via a Freedom of 
Information request.