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Friday 23 March 2018

SWRHA falls victim to fake news

An image of a Facebook post which claimed that a pregnant woman had fallen and died at the San Fernando General Hospital on Tuesday. The post turned out to be false.


A day after Justice Frank Seepersad gave a historic court ruling on the consequences of irresponsible social media posting, the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) said it too has fallen victim to false allegations through social media.

A Facebook user posted on his time line on Tuesday: “Pregnant woman just fell down and die in the San Fernando General Hospital since yesterday she waiting on a bed health system is d worst in Trinidad.”

The SWRHA denied this statement, saying assertions in the post were libellous and aimed at disrupting and causing fear and panic among patients which the general hospital serves. The authority issued a press release Tuesday afternoon, saying it investigated the claim and found it to be inaccurate.

The authority revealed there were five deaths Monday night, four of them patients who were warded and one male who died at the resuscitation room. An official said none of the women who died were pregnant and the youngest of the four was 59. “For the last 24 hours, the bed capacity at the Obstetric Department remains at a manageable figure with beds being available,” the release stated.

The Facebook user’s false post attracted comments from dozens of other social media users including a former nurse who wrote: “The health system is just as bad as the staff. I left my training as a registered nurse for the same reason because it sucks.”

When the Facebook user posted an update stating: “The hospital saying that it didn’t happened so the ppl family lying now”, this elicited a response from another user who wrote: “Of course in their own defence they will say that, they always try to cover up their negligence...”

When Newsday reached out to the Facebook user who posted the malicious information, he said he had no contact with the family of the pregnant woman who fell and died and wrote about the ‘death’, after overhearing a conversation among other people.

Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh slammed the post, saying he felt the person who wrote the post was being mischievous. “It it is totally false,” Deyalsingh said. Noting Justice Seepersad’s ruling that a woman who posted libellous remarks about a family be made to pay the victims compensation as well as their legal costs, the minister said his ministry will not take legal action against the man for the fake post.

“What we ask is for people to be responsible and realise when they make these types of posts, it does not do their country any good. I am calling for all citizens to be right thinking and patriotic and not to bring the public health system into disrepute,” Deyalsingh said.


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