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Karolinska slammed over newborn deaths

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Karolinska slammed over newborn deaths
08:01 CEST+02:00
Sweden's prestigious Karolinska University hospital has been criticized by health authorities after three newborns died from infections caused by drug-resistant bacteria.

A total of 15 newborn babies were infected at Karolinska in recent months, prompting Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) to launch a scathing critique of the hospital, which operates facilities in Solna north of Stockholm and Huddinge, south of the city, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reports.

Specifically, health authorities have expressed disapproval at how staff at Karolinksa handled the infections once they were discovered.

When the babies were moved were moved to new wards, staff were not informed of their infections.

In addition, the newborns were not put in isolation, tests were taken too late, and there were delays before staff were assigned to only care for the infected children and not also care for others.

The three newborns who died were all born prematurely.

The first newborn died on November 20th last year at the neonatal unit of Karolinska's facility in Solna. According to the autopsy, the child, which was born in the 24th week of pregnancy, was infected by the drug resistant bacteria ESBL (Extended Spectrum Betalactamase).

Two days later another child, born in the 23rd week, died in the same ward of the same bacteria.

It was only after the second newborn died that tests were performed on other children in the ward.

But before doctors received results from the test, many of the other newborns were moved different wards, including a family care ward in Solna and to Karolinska's Huddinge facility, where the bacteria continued to spread.

A third newborn, born 5 weeks prematurely, died in early February of this year.

“Our investigation shows lapses in procedures and record-keeping and a lack of knowledge on many levels,” said the health board regional supervisor Harriet Hillström to SvD.

Officials at Karolinksa view the matter seriously and share the assessment put forward by the National Board of Health and Welfare.

According to the head of the hospital's neonatal unit, Eva Berggren Broström, the hospital has already begun implementing a number of measures to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

“But considering that during the time that the 15 children were infected we had a total 416 children admitted, I think that, despite everything, staff did a good job at limiting the spreading,” Berggren Broström told SvD.

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