The Jakarta Globe, February 21, 2013,
A Jakarta hospital is being sued for alleged malpractice after doctors pronounced a still-breathing premature baby dead.
Maryani was six months pregnant when she gave birth to a 500 gram baby girl at the Kartini Maternal Hospital in Cipulir, South Jakarta, on Wednesday. Doctors delivered the premature baby and then placed it on a table, husband Ali Zuar, 32, said.
“Nothing was done to help her breathe,” Ali said. “I even asked the nurse why she wasn’t put in an incubator. The nurse said she had to ask the doctor first.”
Ali was then told by a midwife that his daughter was dead. The newborn’s body was covered with a piece of fabric and the hospital typed up a death certificate, he said.
The father took his daughter’s body home and prepared to hold a funeral. But during the preparations, a neighbor noticed that the child was alive and struggling to breathe. Another neighbor brought over supplemental oxygen and the father rushed his daughter back to the hospital.
“After getting the oxygen she was breathing normal,” he said. “Her blue face turned pink.”
A doctor told Ali that the baby needed to be treated at a neonatal intensive care unit, he said. The father was told to prepare at least Rp 10 million for the cost of treatment, he added.
“So I waited for them to find me a hospital that has a NICU but several hours later another nurse told me my daughter was dead,” he said.
The family’s lawyer, Ramdan Alamsyah, said Ali would file a malpractice suit against the hospital.
But the hospital’s director denied the allegations,
“We tried to resuscitate her but the mother was only 24 weeks pregnant so the chances of survival were low,” Elmira Sukmawati said. “When we could not detect her heartbeat anymore we pronounced her dead.”
When Ali returned with his still-alive daughter, the hospital had to find an available bed in a neonatal intensive care unit. There are 143 neonatal units in 43 hospitals in Jakarta.
“With her condition at the time, we had to refer her to another hospital that had a NICU,” Elmira said. “While we were waiting, we put her in an incubator and helped her breathe.”
The hospital called around to several hospitals with neonatal units, but all the units were full, Elmira said. She denied the hospital told Ali to prepare Rp 10 million for a downpayment.
Her claims were backed up by Rita, a doctor at the hospital, who said that the staff had checked the newborn’s vital signs. She appeared to be dead, Rita said, using the Indonesian language phrase “mati suri” to describe her condition.
“It turned out she was still alive, but her breathing was very weak so it was very unlikely she would survive,” Rita said.