'THERE WAS NO OUT­BREAK'

PUB­LIC DE­FENDER'S RE­PORT CLEARS HOSPI­TAL STAFF CHAL­LENGES ME­DIA ON DEAD BA­BIES IS­SUE

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Livern Bar­rett Se­nior Gleaner Writer

AREPORT by the Office of the Pub­lic De­fender (OPD) has con­cluded that the eight pre­ma­ture ba­bies who died in sep­a­rate in­fec­tious in­ci­dents at the Univer­sity Hospi­tal of the West Indies (UHWI) in June last year were the “un­for­tu­nate vic­tims of an un­der-re­sourced med­i­cal fa­cil­ity”.

In fact, the re­port, which was re­leased yes­ter­day, said there was no ev­i­dence that the ba­bies were in­fected with

Ser­ra­tia and Kleb­siella be­cause of med­i­cal neg­li­gence on the part of hospi­tal em­ploy­ees, and even dis­puted me­dia re­ports that there was an out­break.

“There is no ev­i­dence of med­i­cal neg­li­gence on the part of the hospi­tal staff which led to the in­fec­tion of the preterm ba­bies with Ser­ra­tia

marcescens and Kleb­siella. Nei­ther was there any ev­i­dence of med­i­cal neg­li­gence on the part of hospi­tal staff in the treat­ment, care and man­age­ment of the preterm ba­bies who passed,” the re­port said.

“The pre­ma­ture ba­bies, who were par­tic­u­larly sus­cep­ti­ble to in­fec­tions, be­came the un­for­tu­nate vic­tims of an un­der-re­sourced med­i­cal fa­cil­ity,” it added.

The OPD, which crafted the re­port af­ter an in­ves­ti­ga­tion that in­cluded in­ter­views with top hospi­tal ad­min­is­tra­tors at the time, said it “ap­pears from the ev­i­dence that the con­cept of an out­break was purely a me­dia cre­ation”.

“There was no out­break at the Neona­tal Unit be­tween June and Oc­to­ber 2015. That which tran­spired was not un­usual and the in­fec­tious hap­pen­ings were part of the haz­ards of low birth weight, un­de­vel­oped or­gans and im­mune sys­tems and the hospi­tal en­vi­ron­ment,” the re­port said, not­ing that seven preterm ba­bies died from the in­fec­tions in sep­a­rate in­ci­dents in Oc­to­ber 2011 and De­cem­ber 2013.

Last year, 19 preterm ba­bies died at the UHWI and the Corn­wall Re­gional Hospi­tal as a re­sult of

Ser­ra­tia and Kleb­siella in­fec­tions. Amid pub­lic out­rage over the han­dling of the out­break by the then Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party ad­min­is­tra­tion, former Health Min­is­ter Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son was re­lieved of his re­spon­si­bil­ity for the port­fo­lio.

DE­TECTED IN JUNE 2015

The OPD said its in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that the Ser­ra­tia out­break was first de­tected in June 2015 in the hospi­tal’s spe­cial care nurs­ery. “By the 12th of June 2015, three cases were iden­ti­fied in ba­bies. All three preterm ba­bies were in the Neona­tal In­ten­sive Care Unit,” the re­port said.

The agency said that by June 25, Dr Mathias An­tione, a con­sul­tant pae­di­a­tri­cian and head of the de­part­ment of child health, brought the is­sue to the at­ten­tion of Pro­fes­sor Trevor McCart­ney, med­i­cal chief of staff at the UHWI.

The OPD said McCart­ney as­serted that there was no re­quire­ment for the UHWI to re­port the in­ci­dents to the Kingston and St An­drew Health De­part­ment be­cause they were not Class 1 or Class 2 re­portable “or­gan­isms”, such as dengue or malaria.

In­stead, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, the hospi­tal quickly im­ple­mented its in­fec­tion-con­trol mea­sures, which in­cluded a “thor­ough clean­ing” of the Neona­tal In­ten­sive Care Unit and “deep clean­ing” of the Spe­cial Care Nurs­ery”.

The re­port noted that other mea­sures, such as the iso­la­tion of in­fected ba­bies and the ces­sa­tion of ad­mis­sions to the Neona­tal In­ten­sive Care Unit, were also im­ple­mented, and by mid-Septem­ber the out­break was un­der con­trol.

The OPD said around the same time, the Kleb­siella in­fec­tion was de­tected. How­ever, the agency said McCart­ney re­ported that this was erad­i­cated about a month later.

“The staff at the Spe­cial Care Nurs­ery and at the Neona­tal In­ten­sive Care Unit per­formed their du­ties with skill and dili­gence and acted rea­son­ably and re­spon­si­bly, par­tic­u­larly un­der the pre­vail­ing cir­cum­stances,” the re­port said.

There is no ev­i­dence of med­i­cal neg­li­gence on the part of the hospi­tal staff which led to the in­fec­tion of the preterm ba­bies with Ser­ra­tia marcescens and Kleb­siella. Nei­ther was there any ev­i­dence of med­i­cal neg­li­gence …” on the part of hospi­tal staff There was no out­break at the Neona­tal Unit be­tween June and Oc­to­ber 2015. That which tran­spired was not un­usual and the in­fec­tious hap­pen­ings were part of the haz­ards of low birth weight, un­de­vel­oped or­gans and im­mune en­vi­ron­ment.” sys­tems and the hospi­tal – RE­PORT BY THE OFFICE OF THE PUB­LIC DE­FENDER

Corn­wall Re­gional Hospi­tal.

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