Two babies have died at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital
Two premature babies have died following an outbreak of a blood stream infection at a maternity hospital in Glasgow.
An incident management team has been set up to investigate three cases of Staphylococcus aureus infection in the neonatal unit of the Princes Royal Maternity Hospital.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said the infection was “one of a number of contributing causes” in the deaths of two babies who were “extremely poorly due to their very early birth and have passed away”.
A third premature baby that tested positive for the bacterium has been treated and is in “stable” condition.
The deaths emerged the day after the Crown Office confirmed that prosecutors were investigating a separate incident in which two patients died in another hospital run by the same health board.
A 10-year-old boy and a 73-year-old woman died after contracting an infection linked to pigeon droppings at Scotland’s flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow.
Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, said the latest incident was “desperately tragic” and members of the public would be asking serious questions about infection control in Scotland’s hospitals.
Two patients died in a separate incident at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital
He added: "Four deaths have now occurred in recent times under circumstances like these, and it’s time for the SNP government to get a grip on this situation.
"Our sympathies go out to the families involved, who are going through unimaginable trauma. Staff, patients and families need vital reassurance as a matter of urgency.”
Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said that despite the efforts of hardworking staff the incidents had highlighted “significant vulnerabilities in the Scottish healthcare system”.
He called on Jeane Freeman, the Health Minister, to appear before Parliament to reassure patients that the outbreaks were being addressed and procedures were being changed, where necessary, to prevent further tragedies.
Ms Freeman said her thoughts with the families involved, adding that the health board and Health Protection Scotland were taking “the necessary steps to ensure patient safety” and manage the situation.
The board said it closely monitored any blood stream infections in premature babies, which led to the investigation being triggered.
Dr Barbara Weinhardt, an infection control doctor, said: "Results have today confirmed that the three cases of Staphylococcus aureus are linked and our investigations continue into how they are linked.
Health Minister Jeane Freeman said the necessary steps were being taken to protect patients
“Staphylococcus aureus is a bacterium that is found on the skin and in the nasal passage of around one in four people and only causes infection when it enters the body. In cases where people are vulnerable to infection, it can cause serious infection
“We have taken a number of control measures in the unit, including a deep clean, isolation and barrier nursing, safety briefs to all staff and infection control advice to all visitors.”
So-called “staph infections” are most often spread in hospitals by skin to skin contact, with the germs potentially coming from a doctor, a nurse or visitors.
Dr Alan Mathers, chief of medicine and children’s service, added: “The national guidance sets out that an investigation should be triggered when two or more cases of the same type of bacteria are found.
“The IMT began their investigations into possible linkages between the three cases and sent samples for testing.
“Whilst these results were awaited, we spoke to the families affected, together with the parents on the unit and staff, to let them know of our investigations.
“Our infection control team continues to work closely with clinical colleagues and domestic staff to manage the situation and take all necessary steps to maintain patient safety.”
In the incident at QEUH, a cryptococcus infection, linked to pigeons getting into the building, was a contributory factor in the death of a schoolboy last month. Prosecutors are also looking into the death this month of an elderly woman at the “super hospital”, which has suffered a series of problems since it opened in 2015.