Couple query health chiefs on pseudomonas

A baby died in a pseudomonas outbreak at Altnagelvin Hospital last year.
A baby died in a pseudomonas outbreak at Altnagelvin Hospital last year.
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A Derry couple whose baby died in a pseudomonas outbreak at Altnagelvin Hospital say they believe he may have survived if the Western Health Trust had strictly followed hygiene guidelines on managing the infection.

Gavin Burke and his partner Caoimhe’s baby, Caolan, who was premature and seriously ill, died in December 2011.

An interim report revealed that heavy growths of the bacteria were found in a tap in the intensive care unit at Altnagelvin.

Mr Burke said that, if the trust had been following guidelines, this bacteria should never have formed. Or, if it had, it should have been caught in the early stages.

“What I don’t understand is that the Trust was told to check the sinks and the taps, all of the water systems,” he said. “But the swabs say that there was a thick growth of the infection. That takes time to develop. This sink was in the place where my son was being cared for. It’s just awful, he was fighting enough without having to fight off that as well.”

The couple said that, if critical care areas were being properly checked, the bacteria should have been detected a lot sooner.

Dr Anne Kilgallen, medical director for the Western Trust, said: “On behalf of Trust staff, I offer my apologies and sincerest condolences to the family in their great loss. We also must remember all those families who have bravely participated in this review at a time when they are experiencing such loss. The recommendations of this review will have a significant and beneficial impact on the care provided to babies in neonatal units throughout all our hospitals well into the future and will, hopefully, provide some comfort to those families that suffered a loss as a result of pseudomonas aeruginosa infection.”