Bacteria probed in infant deaths
Date: Mon, 15 Sep 1997
BOSTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Public health officials say a fast-killing and previously unknown strain of a common bacteria has killed four newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's Hospital in Boston.
Additonal news broadcast on National Public Radio concerning BCH....
Boston Childrens Hospitial delivers approximately 600 babies every year. Four premature babies died over a 5 wk period of time from pseudomonas bacterial infection. The hospital closed its NICU for 4 months to eradicate the bacteria.
There are approximately 2 million infection every years in hospitalized patients about 10% of which are caused by pseudomonas.
By BEN DOBBIN
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - A hospital waited too long to diagnose and treat a woman who became infected with so-called "flesh-eating" [necrotizing fasciitis] bacteria and died 18 days after giving birth, health regulators said Friday.
Strong Memorial Hospital failed to provide proper care for Susan Dougherty, who fell into a coma in the maternity ward two days after delivering a healthy girl on Feb. 17, said state Health Commissioner Barbara DeBuono.
Her department will waive an $8,000 fine if the hospital makes a series of changes in its medical procedures aimed at preventing such a recurrence. Strong is a teaching institution connected to the University of Rochester.
While it is not certain that any medical intervention could have saved Mrs. Dougherty's life, "the hospital failed to recognize the gravity of her condition and did not begin aggressive treatment soon enough," DeBuono said.
The hospital also was deficient in its care of one of two other women in the maternity ward who recovered from invasive Group A strep infections, health officials said in a 20-page report.
Mrs. Dougherty, 39, apparently developed the much more dangerous strain of strep known as necrotizing fasciitis through her Caesarean incision. Her severe postoperative pain wasn't recognized quickly enough as a symptom of the disease that rapidly poisons tissue. She died March 7.
Necrotizing fasciitis, which killed 11 people in England in 1994, responds to antibiotics if treated quickly but is fatal in about 30 percent of cases.
The bacteria produce a toxin that poisons skin, muscle and internal organs. Tissue can be destroyed at the rate of an inch an hour.
Mrs. Dougherty's attending physician did not visit her the day after her Caesarean delivery, as required by state law, the health department said.
"There is no question that I should have visited Susan sooner," said Dr. Stephan Sanko, her obstetrician for 10 years who also delivered her two other children. "I didn't make seeing her the priority it should have been because she seemed to be recovering well."
Mrs. Dougherty's family is preparing to sue the hospital for damages.
In May, the health department said Strong (Hospital) acted promptly in controlling the spread of the bacteria once it was detected in the maternity ward. It is impossible to determine if the three maternity patients were infected by two maternity unit workers later found to be carrying invasive Group A strep, health officials said.
- Copyright 1997, The Associated Press
Additional web resources: Epidural-related risks http://www.slackinc.com/child/idc/199705/epidural.htm
Benefits of breastfeeding on the neonatal immune system http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Hills/7225/newimmun.html