The NHS hospital has not disclosed the babies’ deadly bacterial infections

The NHS hospital has not disclosed the babies’ deadly bacterial infections

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A leading NHS hospital has failed to publicly announce that four very ill premature babies in its care were infected with a deadly bacterium, one of whom died soon after, the Guardian can reveal.

St. Thomas’s hospital did not publicly admit it suffered an outbreak Bacillus cereus Late 2013 and early 2014 in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of the Evelina Children’s Hospital.

It came six months before a widely reported similar incident in June 2014, in which 19 premature babies in nine hospitals in England were infected after having contaminated baby formula directly into their bloodstream. Three of them died, including two in St. Thomas.

Leaked documents show both the initial outbreak and the death of the newborn were investigated but never publicly acknowledged by the NHS Trust, which runs the hospital.

Internal papers from the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust (GSTT) in London, which operates Evelina, show that it is:

The GSTT insists it has not publicly acknowledged the baby’s death in any report, believing the child died of diseases other than the bacteria. However, it declined to say whether it had told the baby’s parents it had contracted him Bacillus cereus.

The Trust said the child died on January 2, 2014 but did not say if it was a boy or girl.

Rob Behrens, the Parliament and Public Health Ombudsman, criticized the foundation for its inability to be forthcoming.

“St. Thomas has a duty of disclosure, and I’m concerned that it may have been neglected here. Secrecy and opacity have no place in the NHS. Where there is such a culture, patient safety cannot thrive.”

He urged the parents of the unnamed child to contact him and let him know if they felt there was a need to investigate the events surrounding their child’s death.

The Guardian’s exposure comes shortly after Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary, used his new book Zero to denounce a “rogue system” in the NHS, where a repeated failure to be transparent about failings in patient safety is a “major structural problem”. .

GSTT’s “Root Cause Analysis,” a 21-page report on its investigation into the outbreak, says the incident began on December 24, 2013 in its intensive care unit and involved “extraordinarily high levels of contamination.” Bacillus cereuswhich can cause sepsis.

But the report made no mention of the newborn’s death. A brief section entitled “Patient Effects” only states: “Four patients: Three patients were noted to have moderate clinical deterioration requiring increased respiratory support and one week of IV [intravenous] antibiotics. Moderate damage but no lasting effects [after-effects of a disease, condition, or injury].”

Furthermore, the board of the GSTT was not informed of the death when the Trust’s Infection Control Committee presented it with its annual report in April 2014. The committee devoted only a brief paragraph to the incident in its 14-page report. His only reference to the impact on patients read: “Four babies in the NICU/SCBU in December [neonatal intensive care unit/special care baby unit] were identified with Bacillus cereus bacteremia.”

The GSTT claimed that it did not mention the death in any of the reports, believing it was due to the child’s poor baseline condition and preterm delivery, not the infection.

However, a third GSTT document casts doubt on the trust’s statement. Minutes of a June 2, 2014 meeting of NICU staff and other confidants to discuss the then ongoing second outbreak show that a comparison was made between the as yet undisclosed death of the baby in January and one that had just occurred.

The log states: “In the first outbreak earlier this year, the baby who died had unexpected accidental bleeding and the baby who died here had similar findings but needs further evaluation.”

GSTT responded to the outbreak by closing its in-house TPN manufacturing unit at its pharmacy and outsourcing supply of the product to a private company called ITH Pharma.

A spokesman for ITH Pharma said: “ITH was not informed of the previous outbreak of Bacillus cereus and death in St Thomas at any time prior to the incident in the summer of 2014. This is deeply disturbing as this appears to be the very reason we were hired to supply TPN in St Thomas.

“Any information about known increased risks as a result of a previous outbreak would have been of real value in taking action to prevent possible future incidents. We were not told so and a second incident ensued.”

ITH provided the TPN that infected the 19 newborns in June 2014. In April it was fined £1.2m for supplying the affected contaminated feed.

GSTT officials privately deny a cover-up. One said: “We’ve been open and honest about it Bacillus cereus Outbreak”. The Trust is understood to have reported the death to the regional surveillance body on child deaths and included Public Health England in its inquiry into the outbreak.

A spokesman for Guy’s and St Thomas’ said: “Sadly, in early January 2014, a baby died in our neonatal unit as a result of extensive health complications related to his very early birth. While the baby tested positive for Bacillus cereusher death was believed to have been caused by other medical conditions.

“The safety of our patients is our absolute priority at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and we will always take prompt and comprehensive action where this may be at risk, including alerting all relevant authorities and engaging with patients and their families.”

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