Inquest begins into death of patient at Chrissie Tomlinson hospital

Evidence expected to take three days

Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital

An inquest began Monday into the death of Tanya Edith Welcome Joseph, who died on Sept. 25, 2010 after routine gall bladder surgery at Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital.

The first witness in the hearing was government pathologist Dr. Shravana Jyoti who gave a detailed account of the post-mortem examination he conducted. Questioned by attorney Simon Dickson, who represents Dr. Christopher Bromley, who performed the surgery, and Dr. Stephen Gaye, the anesthetist, Dr. Jyoti agreed that surgery was not the cause of death.

The autopsy was negative for any cause of death, Dr. Jyoti elaborated, but he also collected various body fluids for testing. The tests, known as toxicology analysis, conducted at Cayman’s Forensic Science Laboratory and at NMS Labs in the United States, found that one of the drugs in Mrs. Joseph’s blood sample was Pethidine.

Dr. Jyoti concluded that the physical cause of death appeared to be “Pethidine toxicity in a case of periprocedural death related to elective laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Complication of polydrug toxicity in therapeutic levels administered for treatment procedure is considered a contributing factor.”

Dr. Jyoti said he discussed the case and test results with two other pathologists, who concurred with his findings. He pointed out that he is not an expert in toxicology.

Questions from other attorneys were largely about the various drug test results and the monitoring of the patient after surgery.

Dr. Stuart Hamilton, also a pathologist, gave evidence via video link. He agreed that the autopsy findings were “relatively non-specific.” He said there was nothing intrinsically wrong with not being able to say why a person died. It was personally and professionally disappointing, but it is not uncommon, he said.

Queen’s Coroner Angelyn Hernandez told the five men and two women on the jury that an inquest is an inquiry to answer factual questions concerning cause of death and the sequence of events that led up to the death. It is not a trial and is not for apportioning blame or guilt.

She expected that the jury would hear from witnesses through Wednesday, and she would sum up on Thursday.

Interested parties are allowed to ask questions of the witnesses, the Queen’s coroner said. For that reason, several attorneys were present.

Anthony Akiwumi represents Robert Joseph, husband of the deceased. Michael Wingrave attends on behalf of Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital. Crown counsel Toyin Salako attends on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions.