Child fatality from blood poisoning
Public Health England (PHE) and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are investigating 15 cases of blood poisoning (septicaemia) caused by a bacteria known as Bacillus cereus. The babies are in neonatal intensive care units at a number of hospitals in the South of England.
The BBC has reported incidents at the following hospitals:
- Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, London (four)
- Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, London (three)
- Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (three)
- Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge University Hospitals (two)
- Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (two)
- The Whittington Hospital, London (one)
It is understood that many of the babies were premature and one baby has sadly died at Guy’s and St Thomas’s, but the others are responding to antibiotic treatment it has been reported.
Investigations are ongoing by the MHRA and PHE. In a joint statement issued yesterday, the authorities have stated that so far indications are the cases are linked to a number of batches of a particular form of intravenous liquid called parenteral nutrition which was given to the babies. This contains a variety of nutrients. The batch of product is manufactured by ITH Pharma Limited the MHRA/PHE have confirmed.
Investigations with the company have identified an incident that may have caused the contamination according to the MHRA/PHE. Inspectors from MHRA are to visit the manufacturing plant.
It is understood the affected product was only issued to a limited number of neonatal units. An alert has been issued to all neonatology units across the UK to make them aware of the incident. Advice has also been issued as to what steps should be taken by doctors to identify any potential cases of infection.
Professor Mike Catchpole, PHE incident director, said: “This is a very unfortunate incident and PHE have been working closely with MHRA to investigate how these babies could have become infected. Given that the bacteria is widely spread in the environment we are continuing to investigate any other potential sources of infection. However all our investigations to date indicate that the likely source of the infection has been identified. We have acted quickly to investigate this issue alongside MHRA and we have taken action to ensure that the affected batches and any remaining stock of this medicine is not being used in hospitals.”
Adam Burgess, MHRA’s manager of the Defective Medicines Reporting Centre, said: “Patient safety is our top priority and we are working alongside Public Health England to establish what has happened. We have sent inspectors to the manufacturer’s facility to carry out a detailed and rigorous inspection and we have ensured that the potentially affected medicine is recalled.”
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