Berlin: intestinal germs not cause of premature death

Hospital germs do not cause the death of the baby at the Berlin Charité. After the death of a prematurely ill premature baby who had been referred by the Charité for surgery to the German Heart Center in Berlin, the first suspicion arose that an infection with so-called Serratia germs could have caused the baby's death. According to the public prosecutor's office, this suspicion has not been confirmed in the course of the forensic medical examinations.

The heart-sick baby was infected with the Serratia germ, but according to the Berlin public prosecutor's office, the results of the autopsy indicate that the intestinal germ did not cause the child's death. Rather, the cause of death was the "previous highly complicated and risky operation," the prosecutor reported on Wednesday. However, "further investigations into the child's death are still pending and the investigation into negligent bodily harm is still ongoing".

Premature baby died after surgery after a natural death In early October, the heart-sick baby died after an operation in the German Heart Center in Berlin. The premature baby had previously been shown to be infected with Serratia bacteria. In the meantime, there was considerable excitement because the child's body could not be found, making a forensic examination impossible. The child was buried on October 12 and had to be exhumed again on October 29 for the autopsy. The forensic examination has now clarified the cause of death of the seriously ill infant. According to the public prosecutor, the infection with the intestinal germs was not the reason for the child's death, but the baby "died naturally after a highly complicated and risky operation".

Intestinal germs not the cause of the infant's death Last Friday, the chair of the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Karl Max Einhäupl, had ruled out a connection between the infant's death and the infection with Serratia bacteria. The infant had suffered from a serious heart defect and the chances of survival were to be improved by the operation. The operation itself was successful, but the child's condition deteriorated dramatically afterwards. The life-supporting heart-lung machine was therefore switched off in agreement with the parents. A connection between the death and the subsequent Serratia infection could now be safely ruled out.

More than 20 babies infected with germs However, the infections of several patients with the quite dangerous hospital germs cannot be denied. More than twenty babies are affected, but according to the clinics currently show a stable state of health. For premature babies weighing 1,500 grams or less, Serratia infections can be life-threatening. Therefore, the Berlin public prosecutor's office is investigating the infections due to suspected negligent bodily harm. Meanwhile, the search for possible sources of infection continues at the Berlin Charité and the German Heart Center. It has not yet been conclusively clarified whether and how the children could have become infected in the clinic's preemie intensive care units.

Politics are pushing for information Politicians are also increasing the pressure on those responsible at the Berlin Charité to provide comprehensive information on infections. Berlin's Senator for Science, Sandra Scheeres (SPD), asked for a special meeting of the supervisory board, at which the Charité leadership should answer questions. An appointment is scheduled for mid-November. However, it remains uncertain whether new details about possible infection routes can be announced within the hospital by then.

Hospital germs on premature babies are a considerable risk In fact, infections with so-called hospital germs have often been a problem on premature babies in recent years. Infections of premature babies with multi-resistant pathogens of the genus Klebsiella, for example, were repeatedly found in the Bremen-Mitte clinic, which resulted in the death of several children. For months, despite extensive hygiene and disinfection measures and multiple closings, the hospital was unable to identify and eliminate the source of the infection. The spread of such pathogens in the clinics and especially in the premature wards is therefore always an extremely serious problem. (fp)

Also read:
Intestinal Germ Infection: Death Lists and Fines
Premature baby: intestinal germ infection in the heart center
Heavy attack on Charité gynecologists
Charité: No hygiene problems due to germ contamination

Image: N.Schmitz /

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