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Karolinska slammed over newborn deaths

TT/David Landes · 29 Jul 2009, 08:01

Published: 29 Jul 2009 08:01 GMT+02:00

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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.

Story continues below…

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.

TT/David Landes (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:07 July 29, 2009 by byke
"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.

What a total FARSE!

Staff did not do a good job, as the report stated. In fact staff were just bloody lucky.

Why cant people just own up and say "yes we cocked up" instead of constantly trying to save face ? This is my biggest gripe in Sweden. professionals dont ever seem to own up for mistakes (I just dont understand it)
09:59 July 29, 2009 by Tennin
I agree with you byke, I think they were just lucky the infection didn't spread more.

So they still want to export Swedish healthcare!?!
10:12 July 29, 2009 by bolababu
Shhh, ..it is politically incorrect to blame anyone for their non-challance and irresponsibility. In sweden, nothing is anybody's fault.

Blame the damn bacteria! ..or the parents for having their babies there!
11:08 July 29, 2009 by bocale1
I tend to not agree with your comments. Medical mistakes occur everywhere, certainly not only in Sweden.

In U.S., medical errors are estimated to result in 44,000 to 98,000 unnecessary deaths and 1,000,000 excess injuries each year; search wikipedia if you want to know more. You can also find in internet an unbelievable list of cases where patients died for very stupid errors.

In any country I spent some time, there are always critics about medical errors, lack of care and so on. Of course, people need to learn from errors and improve routines and sense of responsibility, but you should not criticize an entire system based on those examples.

As far as I know, no country has succeed yet to eliminate those kind of tragic episodes and what goes well is never mentioned in the daily news
21:08 July 29, 2009 by bigmikey
The focus of the article should not be blame, but on what has been done to prevent this from ever happening again. You cannot undo the past.

This is a tragedy for the families, but does happen all over the world. You cannot tell from one bacterial infection that it will kill, but you can prevent spread as soon as identified through isolation procedures.
03:58 July 31, 2009 by Hedley
Let's see the facts:

1-Dead babies have a high likelihood to die, because they are premature: immature organs, immature immune system. Even if they were born on term, they still immunecompromissed, being a easy target for bugs, however these old guys seem to survive!

2-Those bacteria are typical villain made in hospital: the are resistant to beta-lactamase. Whether I had been the doctor, I would had not use beta-lactamic drug. I really do not know what drug empirically to use, since I do not know the species involved.

4-There is no data in this article about the bug, therefore I have no idea how it was transmitted.

3-Hospital acquired infectious, is an endless problem... there is no way to solve this problem, but it can be minimized using general measures of hygiene.
09:27 August 6, 2009 by titousmum
I agree with BYKE above.

It's the fact that these guys come up with the MOST LAME sorry excuses for apologies and DO NOT OWN UP to their own mistakes that just FROSTS the CAKE.

( not to mention the horror of 3 dying, ONLY 15 infected out of 416 admitted- a ratio apparently "within tolerance"!)

All this comes from a country that practices this kind of "lack of responsibilty " in EVERY SEGMENT of their professional lives.

My favourite CLASSIC "Swedish excuse" is posted at the bottom of every Vasttrafik's ( gothenburg's mass transit system) schedule pages -( at least on the english pages):


"We do everything we can to ensure that the content on the website is accurate - but we are only human and we take no responsibility for mistakes and changes. Editor"

ABSOLUTELY CLASSIC. But then again, maybe missing your doctor's appointment , or delivering your child on the tram,due to an incorrect schedule is actually a good thing!?
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