Premature baby died after nurse forgot to switch on machine

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A NURSE has admitted “causing or contributing” to a premature baby’s death by hypothermia after forgetting to turn on a humidifier.

Craig Wilson was working as a neo-natal nurse at the Princess Royal Maternity Hospital, Glasgow, when he failed to activate the machine to help the newborn breathe.

Mr Wilson’s tragic mistake happened just before he took a break and it was a colleague who discovered the infant – born 13 weeks early – was cold.

When he returned from his break, Mr Wilson said: “F***, I forgot to turn it on.”

The baby died later the same day.

A fellow nurse told a disciplinary hearing in Edinburgh today that she had prepared the machine for use and Mr Wilson had only to “switch it on”.

Mr Wilson, who has been a qualified nurse for 13 years, admits his fitness to practice is impaired and faces being struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

 

The panel at the hearing in Edinburgh will decide what sanction to impose
The panel at the hearing in Edinburgh will decide what sanction to impose

 

The case presenter for the NMC, Alistair Kennedy, said that on August 14, 2013, Mr Wilson was placed in the care of ‘Baby A’, who was born at 27 weeks but had been making good progress in an incubator.

Mr Wilson administered continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment to the infant before going for his morning break at around 10.30am.

A nurse who was keeping an eye on the baby in his absence, noticed that the child was cold to touch and that the humidifier had not been switched on.

The nurse took immediate action and the baby was re-incubated but died at 6pm that evening from hypothermia and multiple organ failure.

Mr Kennedy told the hearing that when Mr Wilson returned from his break at 11am, he said: “F**k, I forgot to switch it on.”

Mr Wilson admitted that he initially recorded that the humidifier was turned on and said at the time that the only explanation was that somebody else had turned it off.

Mr Wilson’s representative, Robbie Wilson, told the hearing his client now admitted that he had not turned the dehumidifier on.

Nurse Christine McInally told the hearing Mr Wilson was teaching a student at the time of the incident so she helped set up the equipment.

She said: “He was teaching a student at the time, and we help each other out.”
“I filled the humidifer with water myself, definitely. He just had to switch it on.”

Mrs McInally also added that when informed the humidifer had not been turned on, Mr Wilson immediately admitted his mistake.

She continued: “His reponse was immediate. He said a swear word first, then, ‘I forgot to switch it on'”.

She also said that Mr Wilson later changed his story, and claimed that he remembered filling the humidifer with water but that she knew that he was mistaken, as she had filled it herself.

The charges Mr Wilson has admitted to state that his actions “caused or contributed to Baby A developing hypothermia” and that this “contributed to a loss of opportunity for life for Baby A”.

He also admits charge 1.4, which states that he “incorrectly recorded in Baby A’s nursing records that the humidifier had been turned on, when that was not the case.”

However, he denies that his actions in charge 1.4, “were dishonest” in that he “sought to conceal his failure to turn on the humidifier.”

In a separate charge, Mr Wilson admits that whilst working at the Southern General Maternity Hospital, he said that a baby had been given medication when they hadn’t and asked a colleague to sign a sheet to say they had.

Mr Wilson admits that he recorded that he had given a baby Ranitidine, a drug for treating stomach ulcers, when had not, and asked a nurse to say he had.

However, he denies the charge that he was dishonest and sought to conceal his failure to administer Ranitidine.

He also denies the allegation that he “intended to give the dose of Ranitidine to Baby B that had been due at 2pm, without seeking permission from a doctor.”

The hearing continues.

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