Pregnant Woman Dies Allegedly Due to Medical Negligence in Havana

Thursday, May 23, 2024 by Madison Pena

Pregnant Woman Dies Allegedly Due to Medical Negligence in Havana
Laura Castillo Zulueta and her mom - Image from © Facebook/Janet Zulueta Curbelo

A Cuban mother has reported the tragic death of her pregnant daughter, Laura Castillo Zulueta, attributing it to alleged medical negligence at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital in Havana. Janet Zulueta Curbelo, Laura's mother, shared on Facebook that the hospital committed several negligent acts that led to Laura's death during an emergency surgical procedure.

According to Janet, Laura was taken to the hospital twice on Wednesday, May 15, where she was "mistreated and poorly attended to." Laura's mother claims that her daughter received negligent care, including an altered urine test that was ignored. Due to the unprofessionalism at the facility, Janet decided to transfer Laura urgently to the National Hospital, where despite the efforts of the medical team, Laura died seven months into her pregnancy.

The Hijas de Galicia Hospital responded to these accusations with an official statement, claiming that Janet took her daughter away when she was about to be transferred to the National Hospital. The hospital stated that Laura Castillo Zulueta had been evaluated due to complications from an underlying condition, Megacolon Aganglionic disease, which poses significant risks during pregnancy and has a high incidence of maternal and fetal mortality.

In a Facebook post by Ernesto Cordoví, director of the hospital, it was explained that Laura was to be transferred to the Critical Maternal Reference Center (at the National Hospital) for a more specialized assessment. "The patient, Laura Castillo Zulueta, 29, with a history of Megacolon Aganglionic (Hirschsprung's Disease) and 25 weeks of gestation (a non-viable pregnancy according to our country's laws), came to our institution for evaluation after five days without defecating and mild abdominal pain. Following an assessment by our specialists, it was concluded that her symptoms were likely related to her underlying condition, and it was decided to transfer her to the Critical Maternal Reference Center in Havana for evaluation by general surgeons experienced in such cases," the statement read.

The hospital claimed that during the evaluation, Laura showed signs of stability and improvement, and her mother refused to consent to the transfer to the National Hospital, signing a non-transfer order under her responsibility. Laura later returned to the hospital after a recurrence of her symptoms and was then taken to the National Hospital, where she unfortunately suffered a cardiac arrest from which she could not be revived.

The Hijas de Galicia Hospital asserted that all necessary care was provided to Laura Castillo Zulueta and included a photo of the surgical procedure to substantiate their diagnosis. "While assessing the case in the emergency room, the patient was stable with compensated blood pressure, no tachycardia or hypoxia, normal hemoglobin levels, and a likely accurate diagnosis. We activated the SIUM and I personally contacted the head of the Provincial Emergency Medical System in Havana to expedite the transfer process. However, the patient defecated on the stretcher in the emergency room and felt clinically better. When the ambulance arrived, the patient's mother stated that her daughter was fine and refused the transfer to the National Hospital," Cordoví added.

He emphasized that "the mother of the deceased SIGNED the SIUM order stating the patient would not be transferred under her responsibility, as documented legally. She also mentioned that her daughter was an adult and that she was taking her home under her responsibility. Dr. Manuel's last words to her were: 'You don't know what you're doing.'"

Cordoví concluded by stating that "healthcare in Cuba is free, not mandatory," and that "adults are responsible for their actions." Incidents like these have surfaced in recent months, with Cuban authorities frequently blaming the families of patients for tragic outcomes. A few months ago, a baby died at a Havana polyclinic, and doctors blamed the mother, claiming she had taken the child home against medical advice. The mother, however, denied this, insisting that her child died due to improper medication.

Understanding Medical Negligence Cases in Cuba

This section addresses common questions regarding medical negligence cases in Cuba, particularly in light of the recent incident at the Hijas de Galicia Hospital.

What is Megacolon Aganglionic disease?

Megacolon Aganglionic, also known as Hirschsprung's Disease, is a condition where nerve cells are missing in parts of the colon, causing severe constipation and intestinal blockage.

Why is medical negligence a serious issue in Cuba?

Medical negligence in Cuba is a critical issue because it often results in severe health complications or death, as seen in the case of Laura Castillo Zulueta. The lack of accountability and the tendency of authorities to blame families add to the problem.

What actions can families take if they suspect medical negligence?

Families can file formal complaints with health authorities and seek legal action. Publicizing the issue on social media, as in Janet Zulueta Curbelo's case, can also draw attention to the problem.

© CubaHeadlines 2024

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