Cay Hill:--- The Medical Director of the St. Maarten Medical Center Dr. George Scot has finally decided to react to the assault that was committed at the institution by one of the specialists that was hired by the medical institution. In a press release, Dr. Scot said that he is refuting the incorrect statements that were published in the local media about the incident.
On April 27th SMN News reported the incident where a gynecologist working for the St Maarten Medical Center assaulted the head nurse of the OBYN section of the hospital Nurse Sheryl Carty. The attacker at the time was identified as Dr. Diedrick Smit. SMN News reported that the Minister of Health and the board of Directors of the St. Maarten Medical Center will be investigating the incident. Union representatives said that the gynecologist assaulted the head nurse when she confronted him on the use of unsterile gloves on patients which is against the hospital’s policy. Members of the union also called on the hospital to get rid of the doctor who shows violent behavior. According to the union, the gynecologist is still working and no sanctions were taken by the hospital administration.
In the press release issued by Dr. Scot he admitted that the assault took place and that the hospital has a policy (unwritten) where they do not use unsterile gloves to perform pelvic examinations on their patients. Dr. Scot also said that the hospital intends to take disciplinary actions against the specialist after receiving an advice from the medical staff board of specialists. However, Dr. Scot failed to mention what form of disciplinary actions he as chairman, managing director and consultant of the St. Maarten Medical Center will take against the specialist that was hired by the SMMC. It should be noted that the board of specialists only issues advice to the hospital in cases of medical mal-practice and not in the case of assault where outside forces are investigating an incident of assault. Currently the police and the Minister of Health have been investigating the case since Nurse Carty filed a complaint against Dr. Diedrick Smit. Spokesman for the Medical Union Greg Arrindell said the union is yet to receive a response from the chairman/medical director/consultant on the incident.
The press release further states that the hospital never fired or terminated any of its employees in the past five years for similar incidents. While Dr. Scot might be correct that termination did not occur in the past five years. A head nurse was fired some years ago when she verbally abused a nurse who did not clean the delivery room properly. SMN News covered the incident some years ago when the head nurse (a local professional) who returned from the United States to serve her island was forced to leave St. Maarten due to her aggressive behavior towards her colleague and subordinate.
Below is the full text of the release issued by Dr. Scot on behalf of the St. Maarten Medical Center:
SMMC refutes the incorrect statements which were given in recent press coverage, with regard to the incident that recently occurred between a Specialist and a Ward Supervisor. It damages the reputation of SMMC and by extension the reputation of our employees.
We regard the statements as slander and question the reasons why they were made. It is important that the public receives the correct information so that they know and understand that management and employees will do everything to make and keep the SMMC a safe place when they are in need of medical treatment.
The incident, where a specialist pushed a ward supervisor during a heated discussion, was witnessed by two other employees. The incident happened in the nurse’s station and no patients were present as previous reported in the media.
We regret that the incident occurred and do not condone nor accept that any staff member has any verbal outbursts or physical confrontations with any other person within SMMC.
Disciplinary measures will be taken against the specialist after dr. Scot, Board of Directors of SMMC, receives an advice from the Medical Staff Board of the specialists. The Medical Staff Board is an organized independent body of which all specialists operating at SMMC are member of. The advisory process is a required procedure in line with the rules and regulation of the Medical Staff Board.
The specialist deeply apologizes for the occurrence of the incident and is heavily affected by the reactions it caused as well as the false accusations against him as a professional. He has requested and received approval, to take some time out in order for all parties to be able to focus on the continuity of patient care.
All patients at SMMC are examined with new gloves that are only used once. We absolutely refute the statements indicating otherwise. The discussion between the Specialist and the Ward Supervisor regarded the specific use of new sterile gloves versus new unsterile gloves. Sterile gloves have undergone a special process and are separately packed to ensure its sterile state and are only used for medical indications.
Many hospitals in various countries, including the Netherlands, have the policy that if there is no clear medical indications requiring the specific use of sterile gloves, patients are examined with the use of regular gloves (unsterile). There is no scientific proof indicating that the risk of infection by female patients increases with the use of regular gloves.
At the Obstetrics/Gynaecology ward at SMMC there is the unwritten policy to use sterile gloves when performing pelvic exams by patients. Although there is no scientific proof that this will contribute to any extra safety, SMMC has adapted this practice and will continue to do so from a precautionary standpoint.
The new specialist was accustomed to use regular gloves when executing pelvic exams by patients and he was not informed of this unwritten SMMC policy. At the moment of the incident the choice of gloves was brought forward as questioning the medical authority of the specialist.
SMMC also refutes any statement that other staff members have been dismissed for similar or less incidents. In the past 5 years there were 8 incidents where staff members were dismissed on an average workforce of 200 employees, 5 for proven fraudulent actions, 2 for frequent absenteeism and 1 for sexual assault.
As a professional organization we stand for just conduct towards our patients and to our employees. The employees are SMMC. We are working with people for people. Conflicts can happen, therefore it is important to have policies and procedures in place to ensure that they can be addressed in a responsible manner. This means hearing all parties and understanding the root of the issue at hand.
SMMC is giving this matter it fullest attention to ensure a safe and healthy environment for its patients and employees.