St Ann's Bay Hospital being sued for negligence - Family blame man's death on absence of doctor

July 20, 2018
Kirby Smallhorne

A diving expedition turned tragic for family members of Kirby Smallhorne last Friday. His brother, Shawn Bennett, told THE WEEKEND STAR that Kirby went diving at White River in St Ann when he encountered difficulty while heading back to shore. He said that Kirby was helped to shore and quickly taken to the St Ann's Bay hospital for treatment.

"He was crying for his chest and saying he could not breathe properly. They suggested that he might have decompression sickness. They called the marine lab at Discovery Bay so that he could get a decompresser and they told me the cost," Bennett said.

He said that while at the hospital, his brother was crying for his chest and pleading for oxygen because he could not breathe.

Bennett said that the hospital called an ambulance so that his brother can be transferred to the marine lab but even though it came, Smallhorne was not sent to the marine lab.

"When the ambulance came, there was no doctor on the ward to release him. He was there crying and crying until he collapsed, because he had no oxygen," he said.

Smallhorne,33, later died.

Heartbroken by the death of their loved one, the family has since accused the hospital of negligence.

"We were a family. He was very active. He likes sports, he drive race cars, he plays pool for the St Ann's team, he was just a very active person and we miss him," Bennett said.

The North East Regional Health Authority said it has launched an investigation into the incident.

"The senior management of the hospital has had an initial meeting with the family members of the deceased, in keeping with the complaint mechanism system. Notification has also been received from the attorney representing the deceased's family, and investigations are ongoing surrounding the allegations made in relation to the clinical management of the patient," said the body which has responsibility for the management and delivery of healthcare and public health services within the parishes of St Ann, St Mary and Portland.

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