(CMR) A mother has taken legal action against the South-West Regional Health Authority in Trinidad and Tobago after a mix-up between two outpatients' names at the San Fernando General Hospital resulted in her 13-year-old child having eye surgery meant for the other.
Stephan Thomas, now 14, has since undergone corrective surgeries at the hospital, but his mother, Latoiya Moses, said his eye condition has not improved.
According to local news reports, Moses, a single mother from Couva, said her only child has a “squint” left eye.
The mother reportedly accompanied her son to the hospital's eye clinic on 11 January, and when his name was called, a staff member said he needed laser surgery. She filled out and signed several documents consenting to the procedure.
She later found out the laser treatment was intended for someone named Stephon Thomas, who has a cataract, and not for Stephan Thomas.
The same day, doctors gave her prescriptions and discharged him. Her son was given medication and discharged from the hospital on the same day. However, a few days later, he complained about not seeing out of the damaged eye and was taken to the hospital.
On 19 January 2021, Stephan had surgery, but his condition worsened.
According to Trinidad and Tobago News Day, the boy was hospitalized for 14 days in May last year. Four months later, in September, Stephan had yet more surgery, this time because the lens previously put in his eye was the wrong size.
At a press conference earlier this week, Moses said, “I am not condemning anybody, but something like this made me realize that even if we think someone is qualified and know what they are doing, we could still ask a question. We have all the rights to do so.
“For me, I had failed to do that, and now my son is in a position where I am not sure that I would get the support that I needed just by coming here (at the conference) today. I just want my son to have a normal life again.”
The mother said the trips to the hospital had affected both her and her son mentally and psychologically.
“Before the surgery, I used to go outside and play with my dog. He was my only friend. Now, most of the time, I cry for him. Sometimes I took him for walks in the savannah,” Stephan said.
“Before the surgery, my eye was perfectly fine,” he added
Despite the hospital mix-up, he said, “The nurses at the hospital were really nice, and they made me feel normal and happy.”
Attorneys are seeking special damages for medical and travel expenses for the mother and son. They also want general damages for personal injuries and consequential loss for a sum to be agreed.