CHINA> Regional
Filthy hospital responsible for deaths of 5 infants
Updated: 2009-03-26 14:23

BEIJING -- Five newborn children from north China's Tianjin Municipality died from hospital-acquired infections, and the hospital's sub-standard hygiene conditions and flawed management were to blame, said experts with the Ministry of Health (MOH) Wednesday.

Six newborn children in critical conditions were transferred to the Beijing Children's Hospital on March 18 and 19 from the Jixian County Maternal and Child Care Service Center.

Five of them were dead as of 2 pm Sunday. The other one was in a stable condition, the ministry said.

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Initial investigation by a group of MOH experts showed the three of the newborns contracted enterobacter cloacae, a clinically significant Gram-negative bacterium usually found in moist environments, in the care service center. They developed septicaemia, a serious condition in which infection is spread through the blood.

All six infants had received treatment in the care service center's incubators. MOH experts sent to the care service center believed them to be the source of the infection.

The incubators were "seriously contaminated, and were not sterilized thoroughly," said the experts, adding that disinfectant applied in the hospital failed to meet concentration standards, and the medical staff at the center were not well-informed of infection prevention.

The setting of the newborn ward and the care service center's working procedures also failed to meet standards to ensure safety of surgeries, the experts said.

Jixian County Maternal and Child Care Service Center has 300 beds, including 31 for newborn children.

The Tianjin Municipal Health Bureau had also dispatched experts to the care service center to assist medical treatment and to strengthen infection prevention efforts.

But parents of former patients at the care service center suspected there might had been more victims to the hospital-acquired infections.

Dong Shengli, a resident in the Jixian county, told Thursday's China Youth Daily that his son died recently at Jixian County Maternal and Child Care Service Center, and showed similar symptoms to the six newborn children transferred to Beijing.

According to Dong, his son was born in December last year at the care service center, and he suspected that his son was also infected during his stay in hospital.

Dong said he also found another five families who had seen their newborn babies die or their conditions aggravate during treatment at the care center.

"I want to know the truth," he said.

In the last incident involving newborn children suffering hospital-acquired infections, eight babies died in northwest China's Shaanxi province between September 5 and 15.