By Dr Imran Keeka, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:
THE DA has been informed by an impeccable source within Durban’s Nkosi Albert Luthuli hospital that five newborn babies have died over a very short period, allegedly due to hospital acquired infections.
According to our source, who works within the hospital’s ICU (NICU) the causes of death identified were either Acinetobacter and/ or Klebsiella. Four of the babies were surgical patients and one was a medical admission.
The same source has advised that there is currently another baby in the NICU with Klebsiella, who is one of a set of quadruplets. The other three siblings have been referred back to the base hospital.
The DA acknowledges that in-hospital infections can and do occur from time to time. But not with the severity and frequency as have been reported at this hospital.
Such infections in very young babies who have underdeveloped immune systems, along with post surgery stress in some cases, are at very high risk of death or severe disability.
Both Klebsiella and Acinetobacter are known causes of infection in hospital settings, especially in ICU’s where patients are on life support and as a result staff should be hyper-vigilant.
Our source claims that infection control within the unit is poor with staff failing to adhere to hand washing procedures despite repeated warnings by the nursing manager.
In failing to sound the alarm, the DA believes that current hospital management and the head of the unit are trying to cover-up the deaths of theses babies. The hospital currently has an acting CEO who is also CFO which means that major issues such as this are being left for the nursing manager to deal with.
Today during a Sitting in the KZN Legislature, the DA called on KZN Health MEC, Sibongiseni Dhlomo to take urgent steps so that no more babies lose their lives in this unit.
We also advised the MEC that we expect him to ensure that those who delayed in bringing this problem to the fore are dealt with severely and for the head of the unit to be suspended until an investigation absolves him and his staff from any culpability.
Every death in this unit is one death too many.