Coroner urges review after death of baby

Date published: 09 May 2015

A coroner will call for a review of screening for life-threatening infection following the death of a one-day-old baby at the Royal Oldham Hospital on Christmas Eve.

Coroner Lisa Hashmi is to raise concerns about the delay in the baby’s treatment for Group B Streptococcus - and whether mothers should be compulsorily screened before giving birth.

GBS is one of many bacteria present, carried by 20 per cent of pregnant women. It usually causes no harm. Babies can come in contact with the bacteria at birth. Most remain unaffected, but some can develop septicaemia, pneumonia or meningitis, with death the occasional result.

The child - referred to as baby Olsberg - was born on 23 December in North Manchester General Hospital, and three hours later wasn’t feeding properly and was cold. Staff kept him under close observation but after three more hours his condition began to deteriorate. But it wasn’t until 1am next morning - nine hours after birth - that he was given antibiotics to treat the infection.

Three hours later the baby was moved to the Royal Oldham Hospital - amid fears he might not survive the journey - and his condition continued to deteriorate. After three heart arrests he was pronounced dead at 3.20pm.

The child’s father, Jacob Olsberg, asked if midwives at North Manchester should have tested his wife for GBS, since one of her other children suffered the same infection in 2011. He was told this wasn’t the Pennine Acute Trust’s policy.

He said: “The GBS was on my wife’s record but no tests were done. It wasn’t until 11pm that we knew how serious it was. I have no concerns with the staff at the Royal Oldham. They didn’t have much to work with. They were excellent and continued as long as they could.”

Prof Benjamin Stenson told the inquest that while faster treatment would have helped, the seriousness of baby Olsberg’s condition meant that it was probable he would have died anyway.

Ms Hashmi told the family she would give a full written decision within 28 days, and raise concerns with the procedure at the trust.

She said: “I will be bringing attention to my worries about the issues with the relevant parties regarding the delay, and whether this is something that should be routinely screened for.”

A spokesperson for the trust, which covers the Royal Oldham, Rochdale Infirmary, Fairfield, and the North Manchester General Hospital, said: “We will ensure any lessons will be learned and acted upon. We have offered to meet with the family.”

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