NHS procedures need to be tightened following baby illness
The death of one baby and illness of 17 others – all believed to have been caused by being given contaminated hospital feed – is extremely worrying and another clear example of how NHS procedures have to be tightened and improved.
Whilst the birth of a child is always a time of great excitement for any family, it is also a time of great worry.
Parents pray for their baby to be born healthy, and should their new-born need treatment in a special care unit, usually the only reassuring factor is that they are to be given the very best treatment to help them pull through.
Sadly, the death of a baby from blood poisoning at St Thomas’ Hospital in south London suggests that is not always the case.
It has led to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitting the NHS has ‘a lot further to go’ when it comes to patient safety, telling the NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Liverpool that the case “shows we can never take safety for granted” and “the importance of prompt and early identification of problems.”
For those with children currently in neonatal intensive care units, this case will be huge cause of extra concern and worry, despite the product in question being recalled immediately from all hospitals across the UK.
The company which manufactures the feed has already expressed its ‘sadness’, whilst Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have both launched investigations.
The babies affected, many of whom were premature, were being cared for in neonatal intensive care units and were given the feed direct to their bloodstream, as they could not be fed by mouth.
It is believed a number of batches of a particular form of the intravenous liquid, made by a London-based company, may have been contaminated last week, as enquiries have identified “an incident that might have caused the contamination”.
Questions have to be raised as to why issues with the feed were not spotted before being given to the babies, particularly as an “incident” has clearly been identified now. Surely there should have been some alarm or trigger to check the feed when the incident actually happened?
The fact that babies at six hospitals developed septicaemia – all believed to be linked to the same batch of feed – suggests the scale of this medical error could have been much worse. Thankfully though, all surviving babies are said to have been responding well to antibiotics.
As experts in medical negligence compensation cases, we at Neil Hudgell Solicitors see far too many cases of avoidable errors being made in the NHS, errors which come at a big cost to peoples’ health, and like in this case, sometimes those errors can prove fatal.
Now, at the very least, this investigation must ensure procedures are tightened at all stages of the process, from at the manufacturers themselves to on neonatal intensive care units at hospitals across the country which use this product, and others similar.
One precious life has already been lost. There must be no more.
The hospitals where babies developed septicaemia were: Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, London, Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, London , Brighton and Sussex University