“Miss Clayton’s subsequent death … was as a direct result of the failed tracheostomy …”
— U.K. coroner Sarah Whitby
“Neither the authority, nor any director or employee of the Authority, nor any Committee member, shall be liable in damages for anything done or omitted in the discharge of their respective functions or duties unless it is shown that the act or omission was in bad faith.”
— Cayman Islands Health Services Law, Section 12
“We are not aware of any other jurisdictions that precludes claims in this way. Certainly, the most developed countries, including the U.K. and the U.S., allow claims for negligence.”
— James Kennedy, partner, Samson and McGrath Attorneys-at-Law
“Nothing can bring her back, but if there is something that can be done that prevents another family going through what we have been through, then we welcome that.”
— Kate’s mother, Jo Clayton
“Due to reasons of privacy and patient confidentiality we are unable to comment on this story.”
Lizzette Yearwood, CEO, Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, March 23
“The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority has repeatedly declined to discuss specific details of Kate Clayton’s case, citing patient confidentiality requirements.”
— Cayman Compass, Sept. 21
It is a pernicious system that reigns within the corridors of Grand Cayman’s public hospital.
Even if it is demonstrated that the actions, or failures, by Health Services Authority personnel directly caused the death of a patient, the law shields the agency and its civil servants from legal consequences, in ironclad language akin to the statute granting our legislators “parliamentary privilege” on the floor of the Legislative Assembly.
It is perhaps surprising that Cayman’s hospital officials feel comfortable in issuing “no comments,” citing, of all things, the confidentiality of the patient … who has died and whose family is still seeking answers.
Now, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has taken the unusual step of launching an investigation into “the circumstances surrounding [Kate Clayton’s] death,” which, in the broad dialect of law enforcement, may include any number of possibilities.
Confronted with external scrutiny, the natural response of any bureaucratic organization is to circle the proverbial wagons, to deny, deflect and, if the opportunity presents itself, make a scapegoat of an ancillary individual.
This must not be allowed to happen.
It should be clear to everyone who is not a member of the public health apparatus (and probably to many who happen to be) that, in a situation such as that of the late Miss Clayton, two things are absolutely necessary:
1. Transparency as to what exactly took place at George Town’s government hospital
2. Recourse on the part of Miss Clayton’s family, if they believe fault to be found, to pursue damages in court.
If this requires a change in the HSA administration or the legislation governing our Health Services Authority, then so be it.