Better hospital care may have saved Luke

BETTER care at Ipswich Hospital may have saved 36-hour-old baby Luke Day, it has emerged.As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, a new report says superbug MRSA may not have been the cause of baby Luke's death.

BETTER care at Ipswich Hospital may have saved 36-hour-old baby Luke Day, it has emerged.

As reported in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star, a new report says superbug MRSA may not have been the cause of baby Luke's death.

Luke, who died at Ipswich Hospital in February, was previously thought to be Britain's youngest MRSA fatality.

But the report also says that had care at Ipswich Hospital been better, the outcome may have been different.


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The report, which presented the results of both an internal enquiry and an independent clinical expert review, said that even though Luke was grunting, feeding poorly and suffering from hypothermia, no paediatric intervention was requested.

It stated that failing to recognise and act upon these signs of illness was ranked at the worst level – such that different management "would reasonably been expected to have made a difference to the outcome".

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The report said Luke should have been placed in the amber category, not treated as normal, as his delivery had been difficult because his mother had suffered an eclamptic fit.

It was also found that the structure and organisation of the notes was such that it was difficult for anyone to follow what care Luke had received.

Ian Scott, medical director for The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust Board, said: "There were deficiencies is some aspects of the care we gave both to Luke and his mother."

But he said the findings did not warrant disciplinary procedures and that there was not individual responsibility.

Another major finding in the report was that while Luke was carrying MRSA – his death certificate says he died from MRSA septicaemia – MRSA may not have caused his death.

Mr Scott said he thought the impression of a widespread MRSA contamination came from Luke's body being at room temperature for six hours after his death and because of the way specimens were kept.

Possible causes of death were damage to Luke's lungs or brain or even sudden infant death syndrome, although it is not possible to say for sure.

Mr Scott said: "Damage to lungs is statistically the most common, but this is certainly not a professional opinion that I would put any weight on."

It is not known how Luke was contaminated with MRSA, but Mr Scott said: "I think it's interesting that the Health Protection Agency came to investigate afterwards and they found a single colony – on a push button outside the canteen."

Reassuring any mums-to-be coming to Ipswich Hospital, Mr Scott said: "There is no incidence of MRSA in the maternity block. I would assure people that they are as safe in this institution as in an equivalent place."

Adding that staff at the trust had been upset by what has happened, Mr Scott added: "I don't think people realise how much people in the profession care."

A detailed action plan has now been drawn up, detailing a raft of improvements.

These include making consultants aware of all women in labour, reviewing how hypothermia and grunting in newborn babies is managed, and reminding visitors to use disinfectant before entering the ward area.

Everything that is clinically urgent is being introduced this month and the rest within six months. This will all be publicly monitored.

A helpline has been set up by Ipswich Hospital for anyone worried by this news who would like to speak to a senior nurse professional.

Please call 01473 704071 or, out of hours, 01473 712233 and ask for bleep 535.

What do you think about the care Luke Day received? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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