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Lawyers Concern Over Multiple Infant Deaths

Medical Law And Patients Rights


A lawyer who specialises in medical law and patients rights has called for an urgent review of care to prevent further tragedy after a spate of infant deaths following heart operations at an Oxford Hospital.

Four babies were all treated by the same surgeon and died within three months at the John Radcliffe Hospital. Their deaths, between last December and February, prompted the temporary closure of the unit in March and the launch of an investigation by the NHS South Central strategic health authority (SHA).

A report into the paediatric heart surgery unit said it should remain suspended until arrangements are made for improving care and included a review of death rates. It found that among 15 patients operated on by the new surgeon, the death rate was 4.8 times higher than would be expected from a national rate. But the panel noted "all the cases were complex and surgery was high risk".

The report said: "In Mr Salih's four cases, we found no evidence of poor surgical practice, but that he would have benefited from help or mentoring by a more experienced surgeon; and that it was an error of judgment for him to undertake the fourth case."

Julie Lewis from Irwin Mitchell said: "It is extremely disappointing to see the similarities between these cases in Oxford and those involved in the Bristol Inquiry in the 1990's.  We await the findings of the inquiry with interest and hope that further lessons are learned and any recommendations are implemented quickly."