Saturday, February 16, 2008

Mouldy NHS hospital kills a baby

A hospital has closed its neonatal unit to new admissions after a baby died from a rare fungal infection and another was found to be suffering from it. A premature baby, described as having been very sick, died at Salford Royal Hospital in late December. It was discovered that the child had aspergillus, a common airborne fungal infection, which can attack the very young. The infection was also found on the skin of a second baby, who is now being treated. As a precautionary measure, the hospital has stopped admitting preterm babies while the cases are investigated.

Michael Robinson, the senior consultant neonatologist, said: “Preterm babies are more susceptible to developing infections because of their immaturity and we continue to do all that we can to reduce these. “When a second infection occurred within two months of the first, we took further advice and are embarking upon a range of investigations and precautionary measures to ascertain whether there are any common contributory factors. “As a temporary measure, we have closed the unit to admissions of preterm babies and are currently monitoring the situation closely.”

The disease is a common airborne fungus that is found in homes and buildings and favours damp or flood-damaged properties. It is usually harmless but can develop in people with asthma or weakened immune systems such as leukaemia patients or those undergoing chemotherapy.

The hospital remains open to women giving birth. There were 17 babies on the neonatal unit and they are still being cared for by specialist staff. The hospital is a regional centre for premature babies and has received the highest rating of the Healthcare Commission.


Australia: A totally mismanaged public hospital

A QUEENSLAND hospital forced to close its cardio-thoracic unit due to staff infighting refused surgery to an Aboriginal man due to his race, it has been alleged. Surgical services at Townsville Hospital ceased last November, after doctors claimed patient lives were at risk because of feuding between staff. The state's Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) has been called in to investigate the infighting, as well as claims hospital management failed to properly intervene.

Opposition Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships spokesman Rob Messenger said he had heard serious allegations from hospital whistleblowers. They allege that an Aboriginal man was refused surgery because of his race, and a surgeon whose patient death rate was three times the national average was allowed to operate, while whistleblower doctors were not.

One whistleblower tried to meet with Health Minister Stephen Robertson 10 months before the unit's closure, but was refused, Mr Messenger said. He said an independent inquiry was needed to shield whistleblowers from "vindictive bureaucrats". "I've asked the CMC to support my call for an independent public inquiry ... in order to find out the truth, and to protect and engender confidence in whistleblowers and witnesses," Mr Messenger said.


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