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OVER INFANT DEATHS Binay orders closure of Ospital ng Makati neonatal ICU

Hospital says deaths caused by neonatal sepsis

By Thea Alberto, Katherine Evangelista
INQUIRER.netFirst Posted 15:41:00 06/06/2008
MANILA, Philippines - (UPDATE)

Amid concern over the reportedly growing incidence of infant deaths, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay ordered the neonatal intensive care unit (ICU) of the Ospital ng Makati (Osmak) closed while an investigation is conducted.

Osmak immediately complied with the order, with assistant medial director Dr. Ramoncito Coronel saying they are closing down not just the neonatal ICU but also their delivery rooms.
However, he said the hospital would continue accepting emergency cases that they cannot turn away since it could prove fatal to both mother and infant.

He advised non-emergency cases to seek admission in other hospitals or lying-in clinics so Osmak can undertake extra precautionary measures.

Coronel acknowledged that there had been 25 infant deaths from neonatal sepsis, a bacterial infection, in May, more than half of the 45 cases recorded. Osmak delivered a total of 275 deliveries last month.

Neonatal sepsis is a bacterial infection, Dr. Enrique Tayag, director of the National Epidemiology Center of the Department of Health, said.

Tayag explained that neonatal sepsis is not uncommon and that as many as six to seven out of ten infants infected die of the infection. Nevertheless, Coronal admitted that the sudden surge of infant mortalities in May had caused alarm.

Binay said a fact-finding team of medical practitioners will be created to look into the reported deaths at the government-run hospital and recommend the appropriate measures. The mayor has asked the Department of Health (DoH) to assist the investigation.

Joey Salgado, Makati public information officer chief, said Binay will ask former health secretary Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan to head the investigating body.

Tayag sad the DoH has also formed a team, headed by Anthony San Juan, regional epidemiologist of the Center for Health Development, to conduct separate investigations.
"We look forward to working with the DoH, in the light of information that these cases are not limited only to Osmak but in other public hospitals as well. We hope that we can do our share in assisting the national government address this issue concretely," Binay said.

Earlier, Binay ordered Osmak director Dr. Julius Drilon to submit a report and all relevant documents on the reported deaths at the facility within three days.

"The Ospital ng Makati is city-owned and any decision would have to come from the [local] government," said Salgado, adding that the neonatal ICU will remain closed until Drilon submits his report."If we find negligence on the part of hospital staff and personnel, the city government will definitely file the proper cases against them," Binay said.

If found guilty of negligence, the DoH, through its regulatory powers, may recommend the suspension of the hospital’s officials, Tayag said.

However, since the Osmak is owned by Makati, Binay has full authority to impose sanctions on the hospital’s officials and staff.

Coronel said they are prepared to face any charges that may be filed against Osmak.
Infants currently being treated at the facility will be evaluated and either discharged or transferred, Binay said.

Tayag said possible causes of neonatal sepsis are high-risk deliveries like premature births or teenage pregnancies. A lack of prenatal care can threaten both mother and child since the sepsis can also infect the parent.

He added that the delivery area and facilities such as incubators, if not properly cleaned, can also cause the bacterial infection.

Aside from regulating the admission of patients to the maternity ward, Coronel said Osmak is cleaning the delivery rooms and neonatal ICUs.

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Accessed: June 7, 2008; 1:00 pm

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