It was an ugly episode: a common-place bacteria took up residence in one of the leading national hospital’s most sensitive units, and proceeded to kill as many as eight premature infants in the span of three weeks. Even more damagingly, the hospital could not say how the bacteria known as enterobacter cloacae got into the facility.
Five of the eight families affected decided to sue, a sixth having already reached a settlement, and on Tuesday, following a lengthy and emotional mediation session presided over by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, a settlement was agreed. Not all of it is public purview, but attorney for the families Kareem Musa was able to share some details.
“I will agree that in fact settlement was arrived at. All the parties discussed it. There was a back and forth, and at the end of the day I think all the parties are satisfied. Certainly it can be argued that litigation fatigue set in.
As you know these mothers have been going through a lot over the last year and a half since losing their children at the hospital, and the process only brings it back. Each and every time they have to go through these lengthy processes here at the court, I think they just want to put it behind them. And certainly that is what was done today. An apology will be coming from the hospital. That’s part of the settlement and there was a financial award and of course. I can’t discuss that, but those are the terms of the agreement, and I said the parties are happy and they are satisfied and they are moving on with their lives.”
Dr. Gary Longsworth – CEO, Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital
“We arrived at a settlement but we cannot disclose anything about it, it’s all confidential.”
“Are both parties satisfied sir?”
Dr. Gary Longsworth
“I imagine so.”
“Do you feel that the compensation was satisfactory?”
Dr. Gary Longsworth
Legally, that is the end. The payments are due by September 30, in default further litigation. But according to Kareem Musa, the families wanted nothing more than an opportunity to get the matter heard in a forum of some sort, and now, to put it behind them.
“Yes, it is finished today, pending payment of course.
It was five mothers, and as you can see they were accompanied by the children’s fathers today. So, five mothers in all, five babies.
[Referring to the other mothers] You have within one year, there’s a statute of limitations within which they are to bring their claims. As I understand it, They were not interested. They wanted to put it behind them right off the bat, so they never instituted action, As I understand, these were the only ones interested in going that route.”
The hospital is now searching for a new CEO and new Director of Finance, replacing Carlos Perrera. It has also implemented a series of recommendations to strengthen internal protocol to prevent a repeat of this episode.