A bacterial infection outbreak at Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) which caused the death of 11 newborns is being looked into by the hospital.
The hospital acknowledged the cause of infection to be hospital acquired infection and said it is now taking stringent measures to avoid such occurrence in future.
The medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr. Gosar Pemba said that while such a case has occurred for the first time in JDWNRH, the case is not new in hospitals in other countries where the leading cause of death in some hospitals has been due to bacterial infection acquired from the hospital. “This is not to defend ourselves but it can happen in every hospital and we cannot assure that it will not happen again.”
He said the cause of bacterial infection could be due to many factors like contamination of water, transmission from the sick attendant or nurses on duty or the visitors. “It can even be from utensils and packaged food.”
He said the main factor of the water being contaminated could be due to lots of constructions within the hospital and along the way of the water source. “It is very difficult to monitor each and every factor.”
“There is no accountability for the case but management should have been vigilant,” he said adding that he understands the grievances of the parents although none have approached the hospital management for an official complaint so far.
Dr. Gosar said that most babies brought at NICU were preterm, underweight and already chronic. “That’s why we referred them to NICU and their chances of expiring were already high”. “The infection made it worse because the preterm babies are more vulnerable to any disease and they haven’t developed immunity properly to resist such infection.”
Another factor he said is due to limited human resource. “We are actually supposed to have one nurse for one patient but due to lack of human resource, it was one nurse for six patients”.
“Every health worker by virtue of the nature if job is mandated to maintain hygiene but we cannot monitor each and every one of them if they are washing the hands properly or not”. “But if the staffs are deviating from the normal procedures, this can be a serious issue,” he said.
He said that the hospital has the highest death rate in a country than any other hospital since every severe case is referred to the hospital and the chances of such bacterial infection can never be predicted.
While the hospital throws up its hands, accountability is yet to be fixed, especially since it is an autonomous body.