CHILDREN treated for cancer at a hospital at the center of an argument over infections with its ventilation and water systems received prophylactic antibiotics as their parents falsely said it was part of their treatment , according to a public inquiry.
In his opening statement to the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry, Steve Love QC said parents were “made to feel stupid” for asking what was going on as wards were closed at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital and at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Glasgow, and that some children had suffered pain after accidentally receiving too much or too little medicine because the staff were “too busy with the moves”
He also urged the investigation to determine whether there had been “deliberate cover-up” on the part of NHS bosses.
Mr. Love represents the families of 54 children admitted to the facility with serious medical conditions, including leukemia and other cancers, who contracted infections during treatment.
He said: “They had a reasonable expectation that the best possible medical care and treatment would be provided to their children in a sufficiently safe and clean environment.
“What they actually found was serious infection, additional life-threatening illnesses and a catalog of other problems resulting from the hospital environment, the hospital’s water supply and the conduct of certain medical personnel. ”
READ MORE: 10-year-old boy suffered hospital infection linked to pigeon droppings
Mr Love said parents were “often kept in the dark about problems” with the water supply and ventilation in the hospital.
He said: “They have not been made aware of the cause of the infections suffered by their children as it appears that the hospital knew that many infections were or could be closely related to the water supply and sanitation system. ventilation.”
In some cases, the infections the children developed were “worse than the disease itself,” M. said in hospital, medical staff and the treatments given. ”
Mr Love said: “It seems that children are given antibiotics as a preventive measure without any explanation given to parents as to why this is happening … they feel like they are being spoken to in such a way. condescending if they ask questions or ask what was happening. ”
There were examples of parents “being told it was for their child’s cancer treatment or for an underlying problem, which turned out to be wrong,” Love said, adding that parents were “made stupid or too anxious to be questioned”.
READ MORE: Infection ‘likely’ linked to Glasgow Children’s Hospital caused death of young cancer patient
Handling complaints has been a recurring source of frustration for families, Love said.
He said: “Complaints by parents have repeatedly been ignored, unanswered or ignored by the hospital. Parents do not feel their complaints have been listened to or taken seriously.
“The failure of the hospital to properly handle parental complaints is something that needs to be addressed and answered by this investigation.”
Mr Love said concerns have been expressed about refusals or delays in providing medical records; lack of suitably trained staff; and that nursing and cleaning staffing levels “appeared to be insufficient”.
There was also evidence of “overdosing and underdosing of patients due to staff too busy moving rooms,” which resulted in “painful consequences for the child patient,” he said.
Love said parents who spoke out in the media or as part of the investigation process fear the consequences if their child relapses.
He said, “Will they be treated worse? Will their child receive substandard care? How can this fear be allayed?
“There needs to be transparency as to whether senior members of the NHS board have provided ambiguous or even false information to junior staff to disseminate to patients and parents in an effort to alleviate growing concerns.
“Was there a deliberate cover-up? ”
READ MORE: Lord Brodie says hospital investigation will ‘deepen’ what went wrong
The independent public inquiry, before Lord Brodie, is examining the construction of the campus of Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) in Glasgow and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and the Department of Clinical Neurosciences (RHCYP / DCN) in Edinburgh.
It will determine how issues related to adequate ventilation, water contamination and other issues impacted patient safety and care and whether these issues could have been avoided.
It will also examine the impact of these issues on patients and their families and whether buildings provide an appropriate environment for the delivery of safe and efficient care.
One of the first witnesses, Cameron Gough, told the inquest he did not expect to be put in a situation where “a building nearly killed our son”.
He recounted how he was “shocked” by the sudden deterioration of his son due to a nosocomial infection due to bacterial contamination in the central line supplying drugs to his bloodstream.
Mr Gough’s 10-year-old son was diagnosed with cancer after he fell ill in July 2018 when he was seven years old and had a kidney tumor.
In early September 2018, he underwent surgery to remove the kidney, but Mr Gough said there was a subsequent “rapid deterioration” of his son after a blood sample was taken from the centerline for the test.
He said: “As soon as his line was checked … 45 minutes later he was in a state,” Mr Gough said, adding: “We kind of armed ourselves to deal with the cancer and the implications of the disease. cancer, what we did ‘I expected to be put in a situation where a building almost killed our son.
“And it’s really to put it bluntly, a nosocomial infection was the point where we almost lost our son.”
Mr Gough told the inquest that the same thing happened the next day and that medical staff were again successful in stabilizing his son.
He was told the problem was a nosocomial infection, described as a “poo bug”.
Mr Gough said he was “shocked” by the experience and said “it has hugely undermined my confidence in the hospital”.
He praised the Schiehallion unit, QEUH’s pediatric cancer unit, but expressed concern about cleanliness levels in other areas of the hospital and said on one occasion, he had found “brown material” on the bed in the room where his son was placed and had to change him.
After this experience, he started cleaning the rooms his son was placed in because he was not sure they were clean.
Speaking ahead of the first day of evidence, Lord Brodie said: “No other group has been more affected by these issues than the patients and families we will be hearing about over the next few weeks.
“Their experiences will help inform future lines of inquiry as we turn our attention to the later phases of the inquiry.
“This first regime of hearings is the culmination of a year of preparation, providing us with a foundation to ensure that the investigation is driven by the evidence it uncovers over its lifetime.
“Ultimately our role is to figure out what went wrong with building these hospitals so that lessons can be learned to prevent such problems from happening again in the future.”
Earlier this year, a separate independent study found that the deaths of two children from QEUH were at least in part the result of infections linked to the hospital environment.
The review looked at 118 episodes of serious bacterial infection in 84 children and youth who received treatment for blood disease, cancer or related conditions at the Royal Hospital for Children on campus.
He found that a third of these infections were “most likely” to have been linked to the hospital environment.
Two of the 22 deaths were, “at least in part”, the result of their infection, he said.