One baby has died and 14 others are desperately ill after being poisoned on NHS neonatal wards by what appears to be a contaminated batch of liquid food.
A public health alert has been issued by health officials after it emerged that all the newborn babies' infections were caused by a contaminated batch of nutrition which was given to the babies via a drip. The blood poisoning was caused by a common bacterium know as Bacillus cereus. The 15 babies given the contaminated feed were all in intensive care, and many were premature.
Currently, six hospitals have been identified as having given the contaminated feed to babies on their wards but it is believed to have been distributed to over 20 hospitals across the country. It is reported that the 14 surviving babies are fortunately responding to antibiotics. An alert has been issued to recall the contaminated feed, manufactured by ITH Pharma Limited, to avoid similar events happening elsewhere.
It is believed that most if not all of the contaminated feeds have been withdrawn, and it is unlikely for the feed to be used after its use-by-date, which was last Monday 2 June.
The hospitals that have been affected are Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, Guy's and St Thomas's NHS Foundation Trust, Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Addenbrooke's, Cambridge University Hospitals, Luton and Dunstable University Hospital and the Whittington Hospital. The baby who died was at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital in London.
It has not been possible yet to rule out further cases, although the infection develops quickly so further cases may be unlikely. Investigations are underway.
Edwina Rawson, Partner at Fieldfisher solicitors specialising in medical negligence said:
"It is tragic that a baby died and others are so seriously ill as a result of being poisoned from the very substance that was supposed to be sustaining their lives and health. The parents of all these babies, and wider public, will need a full explanation as to what exactly has happened, why it happened and what is being done to prevent it happening again."
Edwina Rawson has represented many babies and children in claims for compensation as a result of medical negligence. She also acted in a high profile case against Guy's and St Thomas's Hospital, in which she obtained substantial compensation. The claim related to an outbreak of a hospital infection, Pseudomonas, which was being carried and passed to patients because the hospital had failed to clean a microscope that was being used in a number of medical procedures. Similarly, sadly one of the patients died and 18 others were infected. Edwina campaigns for better reporting by hospitals of infections to improve patient safety.
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