Health Services Authority bosses insist any “adverse outcome” at its facilities is fully investigated, though they have declined to comment directly on the death of British dive industry worker Kate Clayton. A U.K. coroner attributed her death to a “failed tracheostomy” procedure and its management.
Police in Cayman revealed last month that they were investigating the circumstances surrounding Ms. Clayton’s death.
In a brief statement, in response to questions from the Cayman Compass about what action the hospital had taken to investigate Ms. Clayton’s death, a Health Services Authority spokeswoman said, “The Cayman Islands Health Services Authority (HSA) puts the quality of care and patient safety as its number one priority.
“It is the policy of the HSA to conduct a full multi-disciplinary investigation following any incident or adverse outcome at an HSA facility and immediately take such action or steps that are necessary.
“The HSA does not propose to comment on any investigation, particularly in circumstances where external authorities are making inquiries into the matter.
“As and when all such investigations and/or legal proceedings are at an end, the HSA will make a further statement outlining the findings of the investigations.”
Ms. Clayton died in hospital in England in February after being flown home for treatment following a car crash on Old Robin Road in North Side in January.
A U.K. coroner’s inquiry ruled that the primary cause of her death was not the injuries sustained in the accident but a hypoxic brain injury as a result of what was described as a “failed tracheostomy procedure” at the Cayman Islands Hospital in George Town.
Central Hampshire Assistant Coroner Sarah Whitby noted in her ruling, “the procedure and its management prevented oxygen reaching Miss Clayton’s brain for a period of at least eight minutes.”
No one from the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority was called to speak at the inquest.
The Compass understands that the senior medical personnel involved in the procedure still work for the authority.
In other jurisdictions, including the U.S., being involved in a medical error or “adverse impact” would trigger an inquiry but would not necessarily result in disciplinary action.
According to a study in the Journal of Patient Safety in 2013, between 210,000 and 440,000 hospital patients each year suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death.
According to news reports in the U.S., that would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer.