ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
The deaths of more than four dozen newborns at a maternity hospital in Ankara in the last month were caused by infection and a shortage of personnel, revealed the Health Ministry's investigation report.
The Health Ministry assigned a team of six doctors to investigate the deaths of 28 newborn babies in the hospital in July and the commission announced the inquiry results late Tuesday.
Fahri Ovalı, one of the doctors on the commission, said the team found that 49 of the 504 babies that were treated in the hospital died in July and that various types of microbes were found in the newborns. He got his findings from the investigation of the hospital's six-year registrations.
�The 122-baby capacity hospital treated an average of 148 babies during the last month … There were four high-risk babies for every nurse,� he said, adding that the preferred ratio was between one and three babies for each nurse. Lack of nurses and health personnel were important factors in this incident, according to him.
�Our inquiry revealed that about one-fourth of the newborns died due to infection. The increase in the number of high-risk births and the relative decrease in number of personnel are the reasons behind the deaths, we believe,� he noted.
He said the number of high-risk babies decreased recently as the hospital stopped admitting newborn babies, adding, �There are currently 78 newborns in the neonatal intensive care units and 14 of them were found to be infected. Their treatment continues. Around 28 to 30 newborns died in the past two weeks.�
Ovalı also said 31 of the 49 newborn babies who died in the hospital in July were high-risk babies who were born under 1,500 grams and the rest of the newborns died for different reasons, including respiratory distress, natal abnormalities and oxygen deficiency, and infections � which accounted for one-quarter of the deaths.
The hospital handled the high-risk births, which constituted 30 percent of overall births and attracted a great number of women at risk of premature birth from both Ankara and districts nearby, he said.
25 percent of deaths normal
Mustafa Beşli, deputy chief surgeon of the hospital, meanwhile, told the Turkish Daily News that the commission's statements led to a misunderstanding in the public with regard to the concepts of infection and hospital infection.
�The newborns didn't die of hospital-acquired infection, microbial or bacterial infection which is caught while hospitalized,� Beşli said. �The infection mentioned in the commission report is different from the hospital infection. There is no such risk of hospital infection which stems from the lack of sterilization or poor sanitary conditions in our hospital.�
He said the premature births and the infections were the two most common reasons leading to deaths in newborns and that 25 percent of deaths in premature births due to infections is considered normal and could be seen in every hospital.