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NHS Trust admits negligence

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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The BBC and Daily Mail have recently reported on the sad case of baby Jessica Strong, who died at 11 days old after contracting an infection at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire.

Jessica, who had been born 14 weeks premature, contracted the infection on the neo-natal intensive care unit. The bacteria, Serratia Marcescens, is thought to have spread through the neo-natal unit due to direct contact.

The lead infection control nurse at the hospital said he believed general standards of cleanliness on the ward were high but the bug had been spread by "poor hand hygiene”.

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict stating that the death was the result of “extreme prematurity and an infection spread by human contact”.

Baby Jessica died 12 hours after traces of the bacteria were discovered on the unit. Doctors treated her with a strong antibiotic and blood transfusions but sadly, the infection had travelled to her spleen, lungs and brain.

The University Hospital of North Staffordshire NHS Trust has admitted that clinical negligence caused Jessica’s death.

An inquest is expected into the death of one other infant. During the outbreak, traces of the bug were also found on four other babies. Jessica’s parents have instructed solicitors to take legal action against the Trust. 

The deaths have brought about a different system of cleaning and taken steps to improve the hospital’s standards of hygiene. Dr Kate Palmer, a Neonatologist at the Trust stated that the deaths had “brought a sea change in attitude and culture to infection”.

By Alex Gill