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Furness General Hospital faces legal action over baby and maternal deaths and high levels of infection

Author: Neil Fearn  Bullet  Dated: 17/05/2013

Furness General Hospital has come under investigation following record numbers of infections and baby and maternal deaths.

More than 30 families are taking legal action against Furness General Hospital for medical negligence, which they believe lead to fatalities.

Legal Action for Medical Negligence Causing Baby Deaths

Of 37 cases being brought against Furness General Hospital, 23 cases were started in the past 2 years. These 23 cases involve 9 baby deaths and 8 cases of cerebral palsy. Since 2002, the legal cases have involved the deaths of 14 babies and 2 mothers.

The families blame the mother and baby deaths on poor care and medical negligence by hospital staff.

An investigation by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that mothers and babies were at risk in the hospital because of dirty wards and poor staffing levels.

Furness General Hospital failed to keep to targets for infections

Earlier this year it was also found that University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has failed to keep to NHS targets for maximum numbers of infections for patients contracting MRSA and Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff).

Three of the 5 cases of MRSA recorded by the trust were found at Furness General Hospital in January 2013 alone. Whilst 21 of the 48 outbreaks of C.Diff found at the trust were at Furness General Hospital.

Inspection finds hygiene issues

An inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in April 2013 highlighted cleanliness and hygiene issues within the hospital's A&E departments, including:

  • An anaesthetic 'breathing' tube stored next to a drain used to flush bodily fluid
  • Exposed wiring and a live electrical lead on the floor of a resuscitation unit
  • Chest drains being stored on the floor and at risk of losing their sterility
  • Ripped mattresses
  • Dirty surfaces

Resolving the problems at Furness General Hospital

A team of 15 detectives have been investigating a number of deaths at the hospital since June 2011. They are looking in to the possibility of bringing corporate manslaughter charges against UHMBT for their failure to prevent the deaths, infections and introduce proper standards of medical care.

UHMBT Chief Executive, Jackie Daniel, in relation to high infection levels admits that "I have been walking about (the hospitals) and we’ve got practice that has slipped, we’ve got surveillance that has slipped."

This admittance of the failures of Furness General Hospital to control infection levels comes before news of legal action for maternal deaths and injuries was publicised.

The government has announced a full public inquiry to be held in to UHMBT, alongside police investigations.

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