Family blames hospital for baby's gruesome IV blisters
WARNING: The following story has details that some readers may find disturbing
Alberta health authorities are investigating the events that led a newborn baby to suffer painful yellow blisters on her hand after receiving IV treatment at hospital.
The family alleges that at least eight healthcare professionals overlooked the problem and accuse the hospital of ignoring their concerns.
Dharik Patel and his wife brought their daughter to the emergency room at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary five days after she was born because she wasn’t feeding. Once admitted, an IV was placed in the baby’s hand.
However, at some point, the family says the IV slipped out of the baby’s vein, causing the IV fluid to leak into the surrounding tissue. The baby’s hand broke out into thick, yellowish blisters from her knuckles to her wrist.
“It was completely swollen. There was fluid coming out of her skin … There was a lot of blisters. It was just a painful experience for her and the whole family,” Patel told CTV Calgary.
The family says healthcare workers at the hospital weren’t paying close enough attention to their daughter. They say her IV should have been checked each hour, but it wasn’t.
“Eight healthcare professionals have looked at my baby in a six hour span, nobody noticed this thing. It’s kind of scary,” Patel said.
The family has been so stressed by the ordeal, they haven’t yet named their daughter.
It’s the second case in the province this year. In January, a three-year-old Edmonton girl’s hand became extremely swollen and discoloured after she was hooked up to an IV overnight following open-heart surgery at Edmonton’s Stollery Hospital.
The girl’s mother told CTV Edmonton that the IV line had slipped out of her daughter’s vein and into the skin. She alleged that three different nurses who checked on the girl missed the problem.
Alberta Health Services said it’s aware of both cases and assured the Patel family that the little girl will be given the best care until she’s ready to go home.
The health agency has opened an investigation into the case. The findings will be shared with the family.
Dr. Francois Belanger, vice president of quality and Chief Medical Officer with Alberta Health Services, said problems administering IV treatment is more common among children.
“Complications can occur in approximately up to six per cent of adults and up to 11 per cent of children, so it is something we are aware about,” Dr. Belanger said.
Belanger said authorities have procedures they follow to look into cases like this.
“We have a formal process by which we do a review and we look at what has happened,” Belanger said. “We look at the associated factors and we look at ways which we can prevent similar incidents to occur in the future. That’s what we call a quality assurance review.”
He added that reviews will look into the cases in Edmonton and Calgary and that both hospitals “are embarking in a major initiative in terms of awareness of IV infiltration and education focused on training, monitoring and to ensure we pick up as early as possible anytime there is a complication from an IV that actually infiltrates the skin.”
Belanger said health officials have apologized to the Patel family and promised to find an answer to what happened.
“We understand the family’s upset and our sympathies and our thoughts are with them and with their baby. We are ensuring that their baby gets the care that’s required and we apologize to the family with regards to the delay in speaking to them about the review that we are going to undertake. Once we have completed a review, the recommendations that come out of that will be shared with them as well.”
Patel said that, if the investigation determines that negligence was involved, he expects consequences.
In the meantime, he’s hoping his daughter will be able to recover.
“It was a painful situation for the baby, traumatizing for her, I’m not sure if she’s ever going to be okay or if her hand is going to heal. We don’t know yet.”
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Stephanie Wiebe