Thursday, 11 October 2012

21 babies at intensive care unit found to have bug

THERE were 21 cases of a potentially fatal bug in babies at a city centre intensive care unit in nine months, the Post has learned.

The pseudomonas bacteria, which was linked to the death of a baby at Southmead Hospital in August, was found in 21 babies at the St Michael's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) between January and September this year.

The trust responsible for the city centre hospital said that no babies died as a result of the infection, which can be associated with water supply.

As previously reported in the Post, pseudomonas led to the death of one-week-old premature baby Oliver Hannon at Southmead.

After the bacteria was discovered in the north Bristol hospital's NICU, all other babies on the unit were screened for pseudomonas.

North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Southmead, confirmed that 12 other babies were found to have the bacteria on their skin and one of those was treated for a minor infection but was later allowed to go home.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UHBristol), which runs St Michael's, confirmed that there had been 21 cases of babies testing positive for the bacteria but said that over the same period of time 599 babies had been admitted to the unit.

They said they were unable to establish whether cases of the bug at their hospital were linked to patients transferred from Southmead.

A spokeswoman for UHBristol said that babies have been bathed in distilled water at the NICU since new guidance was issued by the Department of Health in August.

She said there was also an ongoing programme of "water sampling and tap maintenance" at the trust and taps are changed if necessary.

North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Southmead Hospital, has assured expectant mothers due to give birth at its maternity unit that it is safe to do so.

An inquest is due to be held into the death of Oliver Hannon, who was born 24 weeks into his mother's pregnancy.

His parents, Jenna and Andrew Hannon, of Tidworth in Wiltshire, have said that they may take legal action against the trust to seek compensation.

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