It has been revealed a newborn baby has died and another has been “severely affected” after nitrous oxide, often known as laughing gas, was incorrectly given instead of oxygen at Sydney’s Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital.
In a statement by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner, it appears a machine in the neo-natal resuscitation unit had been incorrectly installed.
The incidents occurred this month and last month.
Ms Skinner said she was “profoundly sorry” and that the operating theatre in question had been corrected but had remained closed.
“I deeply regret these families have suffered through such a devastating error,” she said.
“NSW Health will do all it can to support them.”
According to the Minister, the error was discovered last week when a paediatrician voiced their concerns after one of the babies had died.
Ms Skinner advised that staff met with the affected families to disclose the findings over the past weekend.
It’s to be noted that hospital management are positive that no other babies received gas from the affected outlet. Apparently the oxygen outlet was incorrectly installed by BOC Limited in July 2015 and the Government had contacted the company “demanding urgent advice” on how this could have happened.
In a statement, BOC said it was saddened by incident and it was important “to identify the exact cause of this tragedy” and was undertaking their own investigation internally.
“We deeply regret that these families are suffering pain and sorrow,” it said.
“As soon as BOC was notified of the situation we cooperated fully with all investigations being undertaken by the NSW Government – the hospital, the NSW coroner, and the Ministry of Health teams.
The Minister also said every medical gas outlet in a NSW Health facility installed since the Liberal Government came to power in 2011 would be checked.
The Opposition’s health spokesman Walt Secord said Ms Skinner must launch an independent review.
“This is every parent’s nightmare, [it’s] absolutely distressing,” Mr Secord said.
“This is why the Health Minister must launch an immediate external investigation. There’s no point the Department of Health investigating itself.
“Once it’s investigated I want to see that after the families are consulted, that report is released publicly.”