Doha mall fire failures prompt probe

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 11:29 05/02/2013
the Weekes triplets
TRAGIC LOSS: The Weekes triplets.

Weekes' questions unanswered

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"Appalling" failures of the hospital that treated the 2-year-old Kiwi triplets who died in a Doha mall fire last year has prompted an investigation.

The triplets, Lillie, Jackson, and Willsher Weekes, were among the 19 people who died in the Villagio Mall fire last May.

They were at the Gympanzee daycare centre when the fire started, which ignited in the Nike shop when a broken light bulb set fire to boxes of sports equipment.

In addition to a trial into the tragedy, the parents of the triplets, Martin and Jane Weekes, have complained about the hospital the triplets were taken to, reported Doha News

In the letter written to Hamad Medical Corp., Jane claimed there were a number of hospital failings that made the couple feel "let down in what was the worst time of our lives".

The triplets were not embalmed properly before leaving Qatar, meaning their bodies had deteriorated by the time they arrived in New Zealand, Jane wrote.

A New Zealand examiner in embalming, Gavin Murphy, was commissioned by the Weekes to inspect the children's bodies.

Murphy told Doha News: "I was surprised to see that there were no identifying points that would indicate that the deceased had been embalmed."

"Relying on refrigeration alone for preservation does require more luck than process and skill....We were extremely disappointed with the quality of care the three children received in Qatar. As a minimum, arterial embalming should have taken place to ensure maximum preservation."

In addition, she claimed the ambulance which took their daughter Lillie to hospital did not have pediatric oxygen masks, and the adult mask kept slipping off her face.

When they arrived at hospital, though Lillie was still being treated, the Weekes were not told she had died until they were asked to identify her in the morgue.

They also claimed the autopsy did not take place, even though they were assured it had been done.

The Joint Commission International, a healthcare accrediting body, is now investigating the group.

Doha News reported David Astley, the group chief at the hospital, responded to the Weekes' letter last July.

He apologised for their experience at the hospital, saying "this was the first incident of its kind here", and the company had started a "lengthy investigative and learning exercise."

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The Weekes said they were still waiting for an update six months later.

Father of the triplets, Martin Weekes, said yet again, authorities are dodging responsibility.

"This tragedy occurred mid day during a quiet weekday and the emergency services and hospital simply fell over," he said.

He said given the state of the hospital, it is no surprise Qatari citizens prefer to get medical treatment overseas.

- Stuff

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