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Doctor vindicated in newborn's death

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Doctor vindicated in newborn's death
11:04 CEST+02:00
There was nothing wrong with the care given to a newborn baby who died in September of last year at Astrid Lindgren's Children's Hospital, according to a report on the incident.

“We've completed a comprehensive investigation,” said Staffan Blom, head regional supervisor with Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), in a statement released on Tuesday.

“We've reviewed all available documentation and spoken with healthcare workers and the information we've collected is in accordance. We can't see that there were any shortcomings in the care and handling of the little girl.”

The newborn's death, which came to light in March of this year, prompted suspicions that the girl had been the victim of a mercy killing by one of the doctors involved in her care.

The girl was suffering from brain damage at the time of her death and a subsequent autopsy revealed that her death had been caused by an overdose of painkillers.

A scientific study has shown that the level of morphine found in the girl's blood following her death has been found in other children who also died while fighting for their life in intensive care.

However, the Board of Health and Welfare found the forensic analysis of a blood sample taken during an autopsy of the girl also revealed a high concentration of the anaesthetic Pentothal, which is abnormal.

“We have no explanation for that and we won't speculate about possible causes. Our examination has been concluded,” said Blom.

The doctor who administered the drugs was arrested at the hospital in March and remanded into custody by the Solna District Court on suspicion of manslaughter. She was released three days later.

The prosecutor believed that the doctor had carried out a mercy killing in order to ease the girl's pain, by actively giving the baby a lethal injection of morphine and Pentothal.

The girl had been born prematurely and suffered from a lack of oxygen. In her second day of life, a nurse also administered too much sodium to the girl by mistake.

A subsequent ultrasound revealed that the newborn had suffered from cerebral haemorrhaging on both sides of her brain.

A number of doctors actively supported their accused colleague and questioned the handling of the case by police and prosecutors.

The current prosecutor in the case, Peter Claeson, has previously said that he would wait for the health board's findings before deciding whether or not to file formal charges.

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