Family gets explanation for baby’s death at Poly Clinic

Maha Mussadaq May 16, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The family of a three-day-old baby, who died at Poly Clinic on Friday, has been given medical reports stating the cause of death.

Dr Zafar Naeem, head of children’s department, explained that the baby was born healthy, but there can be multiple reasons for his death. The baby, Mohammad Taha, was born premature and underweight, at 2 kilograms, and such babies have a 90 percent risk of catching infection. When the baby was diagnosed with an infection, the hospital administration put him on antibiotic injections and he was immediately taken care of by senior doctors and specialists.

Dr Naeem said the problem may have been that the baby was given formula milk. “This should not have been done,” he said. It is still unknown who gave the baby formula milk; whether it was the family or medical staff, he added. However, when another specialist was contacted to comment on the matter, she said formula milk was unlikely to have been the cause of death, even if the baby was premature and underweight.

A day after the baby was born, he started developing complications and was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for an antibiotic injection and check-up to analyse what was wrong. The baby was diagnosed with heart and respiratory problems, according to Dr Naeem. Farzana, the baby’s mother, had some problems before Taha’s birth. “Meconium, the earliest stool of the baby, may have been passed before or during delivery and if inhaled by the baby, can cause respiratory problems. Farzana had been dehydrated as well,” Dr Naeem said.

The nurse had nothing to do with the [death of the] baby. The antibiotics were prescribed by doctors because that was the requirement of the baby, said Dr Aftab, the baby’s doctor. The family members have gotten the medical explanation for Taha’s death. However they feel that if the doctors knew the baby was unwell, they [the family] should have been informed before rather than after he was dead.

They were also upset that the baby was taken to the NICU by the nurse without giving the mother or family a clear explanation. Rukhsana, the baby’s aunt, said, “Even after we figured out there was a problem, the doctors should have been clear about what was happening inside the NICU rather than giving us false claims and hopes that the baby was alright.” “The hospital deceived us and withheld very important information from us that took the life of our family member,” Rukhsana said.

Taha died at 5 am on Friday morning. The family was not aware that he was suffering from any medical problems when a nurse came to take him for an injection on Thursday evening. Taha was taken to the NICU later that night but the family was not informed about this. When Farzana and her sister’s discovered he was in the NICU, they were not allowed to enter and were told by doctors and nurses that the baby is fine. The family was informed about his death at 9 am.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 16th,  2010.

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