Second meningitis death at hospital

A FAMILY has been left devastated today as the new year is heralded after the second suspected meningitis death at the town's hospital in just over two weeks.

IPSWICH: A family has been left devastated today as the new year is heralded after the second suspected meningitis death at the town's hospital in just over two weeks.

A baby died at the hospital early yesterday - and a major inquiry has now been launched at the Heath Road complex to try to establish the exact cause of death.

The Evening Star understands that the tiny young girl, believed to be about 18 months old, had been taken to hospital on Wednesday night after her parents called her GP.

It is understood the GP referred her to the Riverside Clinic, in Landseer Road, where a doctor saw her and advised her parents to take her to the hospital.


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She was then admitted and taken to the paediatric unit and one source said she had been “running about” on the ward.

The Star understands that the baby was released from hospital early yesterday, but soon after getting home started to decline and was then taken back - but doctors were unable to save her.

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Her death was the second from suspected meningitis at the hospital in December - 11-month-old Ellie Parsons died on December 14 after being taken to the accident and emergency department.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said bosses were carrying out an immediate investigation following the sudden and unexpected death of a small child at Ipswich Hospital on New Year's Eve.

Andrew Reed, the hospital's chief executive said; "Our thoughts are with the family at this terribly sad time.

“It is our policy to carry out immediate investigations whenever there is a sudden and unexpected death of a child. There is a formal investigation process which we use called SUDOC [sudden death of child].

“We will keep the family informed at every stage of the investigation. We are a safe hospital and such incidences are thankfully very rare".

A STATEMENT from the Health Protection Agency confirmed that the death was being treated as suspected meningitis.

It said individuals who had been in close contact with the baby had been offered antibiotics to kill any bacteria they may be carrying and prevent it spreading.

Dr Torbjorn Sundkvist, consultant in communicable disease control from the agency's health protection unit, said: "When a case of meningitis is diagnosed, the public health doctor will make sure that all those who need antibiotics are contacted. Meningitis does not spread easily from one person to another, but we do occasionally see cases spread between close contacts such as family members.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of this child at this terrible time. This case demonstrates that meningitis can be a very serious illness which develops rapidly.

“We tend to see an increase in meningococcal infection at this time of year and it's important that people everywhere, especially parents of young children, are aware of the signs and symptoms.”

The symptoms of meningitis are:

Severe headache

Raised temperature

Difficulty or pain when looking at light

Neck stiffness

Vomiting

Rash of red-purple spots which does not fade when pressed

Drowsiness or confusion

Back or joint pains

Not all these symptoms may show at once. If people are concerned about the symptoms displayed by a family member, they should seek medical advice from their GP or phone NHS Direct on 0845 46 47 or call the Meningitis Trust which has a 24-hour nurse-led helpline on 0800 028 18 28.

NEWS of a second potential meningitis death at Ipswich Hospital in just over two weeks will cause great concern for parents with children being treated there.

Hospital managers have acted fast to set up inquiries into the deaths, and it is vital that these investigations should be completed as quickly as possible while being as thorough as possible.

It might well be that the number of cases being treated at the hospital is not abnormally high - but it is clearly almost unprecedented to have two deaths in such quick succession.

That fact alone will cause alarm to anyone needing to use hospital services - and that is why it is vital that all the facts about these two tragedies are made public as soon as possible.

The last thing parents and patients need at a time of great stress anyway is to be worried about the possibility of meningitis at the hospital.

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