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May 30, 2013

Whose fault is it that 13 newborns died?

The number of infant deaths in early May at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital (K.H.M.H.) has now increased to thirteen. Seven of them died from the outbreak of a bacteria inside the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. At a press conference this afternoon, at which the Prime Minister was also present, K.H.M.H.’s Director of Medical Services, Doctor Adrian Coye, pointed out the shortfalls of the hospital system. But so far, there is no indication of who will be held responsible for the deaths. Doctor Coye spoke in general terms about issues that are already known. The unit, he said, was designed for ten newborns, but at times it is occupied by up to twenty infants. And though outbreaks happen in hospitals across the planet, Coye says it is not an excuse and they are still investigating. But he also said that the K.H.M.H. is understaffed and needs specially trained nurses for the neonatal intensive care unit. After emphasizing that the K.H.M.H. is the only hospital that he has worked and intends to work, Coye outlined the cause of the poor health of the newborns up to the time of their death.


Dr. Adrian Coye, Director of Medical Services, K.H.M.H.

Adrian Coye

“Thirteen babies have died where seven of them only had the enterobacter organism that we discussed before. In a more careful analysis of risk factors, ninety-two percent of them were preterm. In terms of age, that means they were before the thirty-eight weeks which is our definition of term. But a significant number of them were in terms of birth weight. Forty-six percent of them had very low birth weight and that would include less than one kilogram as their birth weight. So the factor of prematurity cannot be overemphasized. Anti natal care, anti-natal history is important for babies. If you had no anti-natal care for example, then you may put your baby at risk for intrauterine retardation meaning that they born small or you may be at risk prematurity as well. There were anti-natal risks for sepsis. Fifty percent of the mothers had urinary tract infection again this can be a reason for putting them at risk for prematurity. A significant number of them had premature rupture of membranes. There was even identified risk factors in others of alcohol abuse and diabetes. And of course the other risk factor we talked about which was no prenatal or abuse and diabetes. And of course the other risk factor we talked about which was no prenatal or controlled or unbooked pregnancy. So the clinical course essentially happened where around the tenth of May was recognized that a baby because very unwell. This maybe was screened and cultures did not sure any positive for any organism and the baby died as a result of presumed sepsis.  Another baby subsequently died in the early course of this month. And again this was not related to infection, but prematurity. It was recognized by the clinical team that babies were becoming septic and unwell very quickly. So sepsis mean that they are feeding well or they are fragile, short of breath. It was recognized. All these babies that came to our unit were sick babies. They didn’t just go into the unit for not being sick because it is a special care nurses. So they were treated empirically to rule out presumed sepsis and as the criminal course because eminent, the week before we had our first press conference. Essentially it is when more babies were becoming quite septic and dying. There was a lag in terms of us being able to identify the organism. But on the ground, I was alerted that babies were becoming very sepsis, but on the ground, I was alerted as to the fact that babies were becoming very septic. We went down to the unit with the head of pediatrics and we looked at the area, talked about cases with an infection control. As well, we analyze the situation and said well let us do what we were doing in terms of adjusting antibiotics; emphasizing the hand washing and making other measures within that area including wearing gloves and other instructions in terms of moving some of the equipment that we had in the area. Despite these measures came the wave that I described before and we made continued antibiotic changes other measures being that no more babies were being admitted into the unit.”


Dr. Francis Gary Longsworth, C.E.O., K.H.M.H.

“Unfortunately the culture in Belize is that the rule applies to everybody but not me. So you have a one visitor policy, but everybody wants it broke for them. And that is an ongoing problem that we face. So we are going to be very string for your visitor policy, but everybody wants it broken for them. And that is an ongoing problem that we face. So we are going to be very strict about our visitor’s palace; going forward and we intend to review all the policies and procedures in the hospital pertaining to care of babies, visitor’s policy, everything before we move further ahead.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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4 Responses for “Whose fault is it that 13 newborns died?”

  1. Storm says:

    People caused these babies to die. People MUST be held accountable.

    The bacteria they claim killed half of the babies most often comes from not washing hands after using the toilet, so that’s an issue with the doctors, nurses, and other staff. They were the ones in the unit, they saw the babies die, and they responded ineffectively, if at all. That’s professional neglect.

    The apparent lack of policies to report EVERY PATIENT DEATH IMMEDIATELY up the chain of command is laid clearly at the management. How can they accept pay to manage if they don’t require their employees to inform them what problems exist in the hospital? RIDICULOUS!

    Maybe the unit needs to be expanded, but all the staff have to work with what exists today. The first rule for healthcare professionals is, “Do no harm.” THEY SIMPLY CANNOT ALLOW DEADLY CONDITIONS TO DEVELOP AND WORSE, TO PERSIST ANYWHERE IN THE HOSPITAL FOR WHICH THEY ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE. Why didn’t they identify the bacteria at the FIRST death, and give antibiotics to defeat it? That’s what would happen in the Miami hospitals where Barrow & Co. go for their healthcare.

    If they are prevented somehow from doing their job correctly, they need to call out the problem or resign.

    There needs to be an extensive professional investigation of the negligence and other failures, and the responsible professionals need to suffer professional discipline, like having licenses revoked or suspended. IN THE END, THEY LET BABIES DIE IN THEIR CARE.

    Personally, I’d like to see KHMH invite the British or American Medical Association to conduct this important investigation, so there is no risk of cronyism, nepotism, or favoritism.

  2. Baby Mother says:


  3. Dorian says:

    It is the pm fault he should ha e been a doctor. Shame on our pm

  4. Sunshie says:

    Yes I do feel for the grieving mother’s, but yes ppl we have to realize that these babies were born to mothers that were battling all different type of diseases themselves, like for example UTI, just to name one I can go on and on but lets just leave it at one. Some of them haven’t come on the TV or Radio to say how much time they have visited the clinic to receive their ante natal care after they found out that they were pregnant, mayb just once before the baby was born they attended clinic, they need to check into all these things, a few of them have come on the TV stating that their babies were healthy and good, healthy babies doesn’t admit to the hospital only sick one, so let face it people we have to look at both side of the coin.

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