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MEDICAL

Baby ‘could have died’ due to hospital drug error

A three-month old baby was mistakenly prescribed a dose of painkillers ten-times higher than the recommended level following an operation at Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital near Stockholm.

Baby 'could have died' due to hospital drug error

Had the infant’s parents not discovered the mistake, the child could have received serious and life-threatening injuries to its liver.

The hospital has now reported the matter to the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen), the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

The child had undergone an operation on its ear and thereafter been prescribed medicine to ease that pain in the form of liquid paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen).

Instead of being given 60 milligrammes of the drug, the infant’s IV drip was outfitted with a bottle containing 60 millilitres, a level ten-times higher than normal.

“The parents thought that the bottle looked too large for such a small child. It was lucky,” said Peter Redell, head of the hospital’s paediatric anesthesiology and intensive care ward, to DN.

Similar mistakes have happened previously at the clinic and Redell said he was present for one such incident.

In September, a three-month old girl died at the hospital. A subsequent autopsy revealed that she had been given an extremely high dose of the anaesthetic Pentothal.

The girl’s doctor was detained on suspicion of manslaughter but was released after three days.

The health board conducted its own investigation of the incident and concluded that the neither the doctor nor the hospital had done anything wrong. However, prosecutor Peter Claeson has yet to decide whether or not he will file charges over the baby’s death.

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HEALTH

Pregnant woman died in overcrowded hospital

A Swedish hospital pressured by a lack of beds and staff coupled with a winter increase in patients has reported itself to the healthcare watchdog after a pregnant woman died in its emergency room.

Pregnant woman died in overcrowded hospital
File photo of a pregnant woman not connected to the story. Photo: Hasse Holmberg/TT

The woman complained of headache and vomiting when she visited Mölndal Hospital in western Sweden in December, reports broadcaster SVT. It was decided to let her undergo a brain scan, but because of a lack of beds in the neurology ward she had to stay in the emergency room overnight.

During the night her condition deteriorated. She was taken to the neurology ward for emergency surgery, but her life could not be saved. The hospital filed a so-called 'Lex Maria' report to the healthcare watchdog, the Health and Social Care Inspectorate, suggesting overcrowding may have been to blame.

“Inadequate level of care, possible shortcomings in the transmission of information and delayed transport could be a contributory factor to the tragic course of events,” SVT, which does not state how far ahead the woman was in her pregnancy, quoted it as saying.

The hospital does not wish to comment during the ongoing investigation, but several staff members have voiced concern over a lack of beds in non-emergency departments at the Sahlgrenska University Hospital, of which Mölndal Hospital is part.

“Patients who really need care in the other wards end up staying in the emergency room. The staff then have to try to care for them there, while caring for a continuous stream of new patients,” Karin Frank, the healthcare union representative at Mölndal Hospital, told SVT.

The Local has previously reported on other incidents of overcrowding at Swedish hospitals. In December, three families from Uppland county had to travel to Finland to give birth because there was no room for them and their specific needs in the neonatal unit of Uppsala University Hospital.

Last year a baby died when a heavily pregnant woman was turned away from an overcrowded hospital in the south of the country, while in a high-profile case in 2014, a Swedish man had to help his fiancée give birth to their baby in the back of a taxi because the family was turned away by a midwife, who said there wasn't a hospital bed available for them in all of Stockholm.