September 30, 2008

Hong Kong Paper Says Hospital Heads Fired After Deaths of Eight Newborns

Text of report by Hong Kong newspaper South China Morning Post website on 30 September

Angry parents in Xian have sued a local hospital after eight newborns died in its wards from infections in an 11-day period this month.

The authorities sacked the head of the hospital and his deputy over the scandal on Sunday.

A team of experts from the Health Ministry and the Health Department of Shaanxi province found the babies' deaths were caused by "lax management, inefficient observance of regulations and irresponsible medical staff (at the hospital)", the report said.

The incident came as the country has been engulfed in a snowballing scandal over tainted baby milk, with four infants losing their lives and thousands made ill after consuming contaminated formula.

While there was no direct link between the two cases, the latest spate of baby deaths has further dented public faith in the country's medical and food industry.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang has ordered relevant governments and departments to "severely punish those found responsible", the Xian Evening News reported.

The eight babies died at the No1 Affiliated Hospital of the Medical College at Xian Jiaotong University between September 5 and 15, Xinhua reported.

A team of experts probing the case unanimously concluded on Friday that the deaths were caused by infections. The report did not provide further details.

The university fired hospital president Ma Aiqun and his deputy, Lu Yi.

Parents of seven of the children have sued the hospital and demanded a public apology from the pair.

"I thought my child died because of her premature birth," a father was quoted by the local newspaper, Hua Shangbao, as saying.

"I never suspected it was caused by hospital mistakes."

The parents said the hospital had never clearly explained to them about their babies' illnesses.

Originally published by South China Morning Post website, Hong Kong, in English 30 Sep 08.

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