March 23, 2011
We are writing to you following misleading information in the article which ran on Monday March 21, headlined “Medical tourists are displacing residents at KEMH – doctor claims”.
We, the undersigned, are the senior clinical professionals who are responsible for surgery at KEMH. The areas for which we are clinically responsible are being attacked unfairly, based on inaccurate information. We feel strongly it is our duty to set the record straight on these matters on behalf of the nurses and physicians who work in our surgical areas.
We categorically want to state for the public record that no emergency surgery has ever been cancelled due to HIFU (High Intesnity Focused Ultrasound). Certainly an emergency C-Section would take priority over any elective procedure, even those provided locally. Such a clinical decision may have life or death implications. If any medical practitioner has proof otherwise, he or she is ethically bound to report the incident through the correct channels to ensure a thorough investigation. No incident report has been filed with us in accordance with proper professional practice.
Elective procedures such as hernias, can be delayed at short notice, however if they are it will most likely relate to high occupancy at the hospital or emergency surgeries having to take precedence. We recognise the hospital needs more space that will ease this pressure and this is why we are constructing a new hospital. But it has nothing to do with HIFU.
When planning surgeries and allocating time for surgeons, we follow clear policies and best practices. Our focus is always to do our best by the people of Bermuda. It is completely incorrect to claim that wait lists for surgeries are longer because of HIFU. Average wait times have not increased at all at KEMH due to its introduction. So that we can be completely clear, occasionally, and weeks in advance of any procedure, there may be reallocation of surgical time when HIFU is scheduled. Any local physician affected is offered alternate operating time.
Given the public comments made, we have reviewed our records and discussed this with the surgical teams. They all indicate that no emergency or elective surgery was cancelled or postponed at short notice due to HIFU. We would repeat, if anyone has evidence to the contrary they should report such to the hospital for immediate investigation.
We are medical professionals and find it dismaying that an issue such as this is being played out politically. The allegations made unfairly undermine our hospital as well as our physicians and nursing staff. It also shows a disregard for the wellbeing of our patients.
Dr WESLEY MILLER, Chief of Surgery
Dr RICHARD HAMMOND, Chief of Anaesthesia
LORETTA SANTUCCI, Director of Surgical Services