Baby dies from infection

Baby dies from infection days after two midwives tell mother to ignore prescribed antibiotics

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 10:00 AM on 18th March 2009

A newborn baby died from an infection just days after two midwives told the mother not to bother giving him antibiotics, a misconduct hearing was told today.

Andrea Street, 34, and Jennifer Ansell, 39, told the new mother – a research doctor – it was not necessary to feed her baby boy vital medication, the Nursing and Midwifery Council heard.

But the small youngster’s body could not fight off an umbilical cord infection and he died two days after leaving the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, in January 2006.

It is claimed Ms Street and Ms Ansell, both employed by Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust, failed to properly care for the infant, referred to as Baby L.

The infant had been prescribed antibiotics by a hospital doctor after he developed a suspected umbilical cord infection a few hours after birth.

Clare Strickland, for the NMC, said: ‘Shortly after his birth there had been two episodes where he had turned blue so there were concerns about his respiratory function and there were concerns about his feeding as his blood sugar level was low.

‘The first time it appeared there were any concerns about his umbilical cord were on Friday, January 27.

‘A nursery nurse noticed Baby L’s cord seemed wet and mucusy so she took a swab and sent it for analysis.’

A doctor then prescribed antibiotics the following day, the NMC heard.

‘Although there were no signs of active infection, because he had problems following birth and he was a vulnerable baby, she took a cautious approach and prescribed a five-day course of antibiotics,’ added Miss Strickland.

But when Ms Street discharged the mum – referred to as Dr B – she told her ‘the cords look fine, don’t worry about them’, the hearing was told.


Baby L died two days after leaving the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton

The mother took her baby son home and put the unopened medication in the fridge.

Miss Strickland said: ‘She didn’t give them the option to ask questions and left them with the impression they didn’t need to give the antibiotics at all.

‘Because the medication was clearly prescribed by the doctor, it was the responsibility of midwife Miss Street as the discharging midwife to ensure that the patient knew about the drug, the dosage and the administration.

‘She shouldn’t have said or done anything that would have suggested the antibiotics should not be given.’

When community midwife Ms Ansell saw Baby L at home the next day, the mother was worried about the antibiotics.

But Ms Ansell brushed off her worries and left without inspecting the antibiotics.

Miss Strickland added: ‘Having found out about this unusual position, if she was not sure, she should have checked with medical staff and the hospital and should certainly have checked the medication and the dosage.

‘Whether this would have made a difference to his outcome, this can never be answered.

‘There was due to be another visit from the community midwife the next day but Baby L died before then.’

Baby L was born on January 25, 2006 and died five days later from a bacterial infection.

Miss Strickland added: ‘A post mortem was carried out and the report concluded that on the balance of probabilities his death was due to a staphylococcus aureas infection.

‘The Council says there was a failure to provide an appropriate level of care for this infant.’  Andrea Louise Street, from Wick, Littlehampton, West Sussex, and Jennifer Maria Ansell, of Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, both deny failing to provide inadequate care.

The hearing continues.

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