Babies die as observation method fails

In the last three years, two babies have died in Sweden and eight have been seriously injured due to failings in a new observation method designed to warn of a lack of oxygen at birth.

The method, known as STAN, first came into use around five years ago and is currently used in half of the country’s labour clinics, reported Dagens Medicin.

In a letter to the clinics, the obstetrics advisory panel at the Board of Health and Welfare has issued a warning about how STAN is used.

Since 2003, eight newborn babies have suffered serious brain injuries and two have died due to mistakes or misjudgements about the use of the method, said DM.

In all the cases, a combination of observation methods was used. One element is so-called CTG observation and registers the sound of the foetus and the womb’s contractions. The second element is STAN, which, through an electrode on the foetus’s scalp provides an electrocardiogram (ECG).

If the foetus suffers from a lack of oxygen, STAN is supposed to sound an alarm – but in these cases that has not happened.

“We have seen that staff find it hard to use the combination method and we want to warn them to be careful, and not to put too much trust in the STAN analysis,” said Magnus Westgren, one of those on the scientific panel which sent the letter out, to DM.

The Swedish Council on Technology Assessment in Health Care is currently working to analyse the risks of the method.

TT/The Local