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No investigation over Birmingham hospital's baby death

7th January 2009

The death of a baby infected with a rare bug during an outbreak at a Birmingham hospital’s neo-natal unit will not be investigated by the coroner.

The premature baby was one of eight infants put into isolation at Heartlands Hospital after testing positive for the Serratia bacteria.

The baby was one of two infected, while the other six were found to have the dangerous bacteria on their skin, forcing the intensive care ward to be sealed off and closed to new patients for the past two weeks.

A Heartlands Hospital spokeswoman said the other seven babies were responding well to antibiotics.

She added the death was not being referred to Birmingham coroner Aidan Cotter as the death was registered as natural causes.

“The baby who died after becoming infected with Serratia was very premature,” said the spokeswoman. “The infection would have been present at the time of death, but as natural causes was put on the death certificate, this death will not be referred to the coroner.”

Serratia is a dangerous bacteria which causes infections in the blood and respiratory tracts and is deadly if it attacks the under-developed lungs of a baby.

Lisa Dunn, director of Heartlands Hospital, said measures such as a “deep clean” operation had been in place since Serratia was confirmed and helped control the infection.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) had been informed.

Ms Dunn said: “Two extremely pre-term babies were infected with the bacteria, very sadly one baby died. The second is doing very well and should be going home in a few weeks. Serratia is an organism which has appeared in neonatal units across the NHS from time to time.”

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