By Liz Gascon.
Ricardo Arturo Amaro, a 19-year-old with Down syndrome, died of sepsis, at the Antonio María Pineda Central Hospital in Barquisimeto, Lara state, on June 2, after spending nearly eight hours without treatment to contain the infection, relatives told El Pitazo.
“They let him die,” lament his sister, Estefania de la Cruz, who said the young man was diagnosed with sepsis in the emergency room of the hospital but was not immediately prescribed antibiotics, although the relatives asked the medical staff, several times what supplies and medicines he needed for treatment, so they could find them.
Patients’ from the NGO, Medicos por la Salud, reporting since 2017, that antibiotics are very hard to come by in Venezuela, particularly in public hospitals.
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Ricky, as he was known to his loved ones, presented a picture of amebiasis in May, and received treatment. After overcoming this disease, his hemoglobin levels dropped, and new medications were required.
On June 2, Amaro was taken to the Cabudare Ambulatory Hospital for abdominal pain. He was injected with an antispasmodic called Plidam and his face began to show bruise-like lesions, once he was home. After this reaction, he transferred to the emergency room at the Antonio María Pineda Central Hospital.
Between 2:00 am and 9:30 am, Amaro received only intravenous hydration, nebulization for his breathing, and hostile from the staff, his sister reported. He was examined almost half an hour after arriving, and only because the family insisted.
“They asked for a medical reference. We didn’t have one, and they demanded that we look for one, but it was early in the morning, and we didn’t have gasoline or how to get to the clinic. My sister begging for not to let him die,” said de la Cruz.
She also said the young man was abused by the head of the emergency service. “As soon as she saw that my little brother had Down’s syndrome, she asked, ‘Does this little boy understand, speak,’ and examined him roughly. Their vocation of service should not allow them to act that way,” she added.
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The doctor’s manner riled the young man’s relatives. “Since there is no telephone signal in that area, I went two meters away to call my sister, give her the orders for the examinations, and ask her for water because the boy had too much dryness in his mouth and the same doctor shouted at me to watch over the “little boy” because if he fell off the stretcher, it would be another problem”, the source said.
She said no health worker guided through the process for blood tests and imaging studies. “We went to get the tubes -to take the blood sample- and no one received them. They sent him an abdominal echo, and a chest X-ray, we went out to get an ambulance, and then we found out that these tests being done inside the hospital,” she said.
The blood transfusion that the young man urgently needed was also unsuccessful because the emergency service did not send the order to the blood bank or explain to the family members about the procedure.
Too late was he tended to
“He was a healthy child, without heart disease or surgery (…) Maybe he had no cure, but we’ll never know that he spent more than eight hours complaining about pain in the hospital, unattended, telling us he was going to die when he had never used that term,” his sister said.
Amaro struggled on a hospital bed and was assisted after the staff’s shift. Two resident doctors noticed the young man’s critical condition, moved him to a bed, intubated him, and hooked him up to a monitor to stabilize him.
“At ten o’clock in the morning, they asked us for four bottles of baking soda (to control the sepsis), but it was already too serious,” his sister said. Amaro died at 11:45 a.m. after suffering three strokes.
Ricky’s sisters were taken out of the hospital emergency room on orders of the head of the service after they complained about the mistreatment the young man with Down syndrome received.
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“The cause of death was sepsis, the same condition (stated) in the order for the chest X-rays that was given to us in the morning. This means that there was already a diagnosis from earlier in the morning, but without providing treatment or something to alleviate his pain and without informing the family about the condition,” said his sister.
The family left a record with the management of the Antonio María Pinedal Hospital of the complaints of mistreatment in the main health center of the state of Lara. “It was too difficult and sad about that situation. It devastated our family, and it continues to happen every day,” added Ricky’s sister.
Amaro’s family decided to make the complaint public, to call on the authorities, and public health personnel to reflect.
“We don’t question the diagnosis or the cause of death, but we want to show how insensitive they were to our little angel. He was a happy, noble, and much-loved child”, reiterated de la Cruz.