Infant Reportedly Injured During Stay At Guam Hospital

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‘Aggressive’ investigation underway into baby girl’s lost fingertip

By Cameron Miculka

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 3, 2014) – An infant girl lost a fingertip at Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH), according to her mother, who is demanding someone be held accountable.

Joseph Verga, GMH administrator, confirmed the hospital has received the incident report but couldn't provide details because it's an open investigation.

"We're conducting an aggressive investigation," he said. "We're taking this situation very seriously, the same way we handle all reports concerns raised, and we'll take very strong appropriate action based on the outcome of the investigation."

On Dec. 17, Tamuning resident Johanna Borja brought her daughter to the hospital. Amaya, who was two weeks old at the time, had a fever of 100.1 degrees Fahrenheit.

The infant was admitted to the hospital, Borja said. As part of her treatment, hospital staff inserted an intravenous line into her right hand. The line was secured with a splint and bandages, which wrapped around her hand, Borja said.

A day after Amaya was admitted to the hospital, her mother said, the girl's fever had gone down.

Then, on the morning of Dec. 19, Borja said she noticed blood on the bandages. Borja said she also noticed the tape around the dressing was causing scratches on the baby's face whenever she brought her hands to her face.

Borja said she asked the nurses to change the baby's dressing. The nurses took the baby to the exam room and told Borja to wait outside, she said.

It was one of the two times she saw nurses take the baby -- the first time, she said, was when the nurses inserted the intravenous line.

She said she and her boyfriend waited between 45 minutes and an hour. Out of patience, she said, she walked into the exam room where the baby's doctor met her.

"She told us, 'Your daughter's pinky has been cut,'" Borja said.

The mother said she pressed for more details, asking, "Big cut? Little cut? What kind of cut was it?"

The cut, it turned out, sliced the flesh from the baby's top knuckle to the middle of the fingertip. It also took off the baby's fingernail, the mother said. The tip itself had been taped to the bandages, she said.

Borja said the nurses told her and her boyfriend the baby didn't lose any bone.

The woman said she was incredulous. "How? How was it cut off?" she said she asked.

Borja said nobody offered an explanation, despite her repeated demands for answers.

"They just kept saying, 'Oh, I don't know what happened,'" Borja said.

She said the hospital called in two surgeons, who said it was too late to attempt to reattach the infant's fingertip.

They weren't able determine when the fingertip had been severed, she said.

After the incident, Borja said, she filed a complaint with the hospital.

Despite being told that investigations typically take about a week, Borja yesterday said she still hasn't heard anything in response.

Borja said she's filed a police report and hired a lawyer to pursue civil action against the hospital.

"I'm very angry," she said.

She said that since the child was discharged on Dec. 24, Borja, the child's father has been taking care of the injury by treating and dressing it.

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