Altnagelvin Hospital probe

Last month a baby named Caolan, died at the Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry in Northern Ireland. He was one of four infants that died from an infection of Pseudomonas bacteria. The parents have since demanded a public inquiry into the case.

The cases occurred in two separate neo-natal units; one in Altnagelvin and three in the Royal Jubilee facilities in Belfast. In both outbreaks, the source has been identified as water taps. The taps have since been removed from both the units and have been disinfected and tested. All tests over the last five weeks have shown no traces of Pseudomonas.

The inquiry would look into whether the hospital’s acted correctly and if the second outbreak could have been prevented. The taps will now be replaced with new ones featuring ultra violet technology, and Mr Burke believes that the taps should be replaced in all units in Northern Ireland.

In addition, he questions whether the two hospitals could have communicated better in order to spread the knowledge that the bacteria was in the area, and thus prevent the infection from taking the lives of any other children.

The parents did not know what had killed their baby until after they had buried him. The doctors from the hospital called them to tell them of the Pseudomonas bacteria on December 14th. This was the day after they identified the tap as the source of the outbreak. It was the only tap that was infected.

Baby Caolan had to stay in the hospital after birth because he was suffering from bleeding in his brain. Despite this, the hospital was confident that the infant would pull through. However, the infection of Pseudomonas meant that this was not the case.

In the hospital’s defence after they became aware of the infection in its neo-natal unit (December 12th) they acted swiftly to investigate the issue. They identified the single tap on the subsequent day and took steps to treat it.

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