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Baby antibiotic warning

Monday February 15th, 2010

New guidance was issued to hospitals today in a bid to stem a raft of incidents involving an antibiotic given to new-born babies.

Photograph of a mother holding her babyMore than 500 incidents involving the drug gentamicin were reported to the National Patient Safety Agency in a single year, it said.

The NPSA said four per cent of these incidents caused some form of harm to babies. But other incidents might also have caused harm - as side-effects include kidney damage and hearing loss.

Its guidance stresses that the drug has to be given at the correct time and in the right doses.

It says that prescriptions should use times on the 24-hour clock. Staff administering the medicine should wear special coloured aprons to ensure they are not disturbed, it says.

Jenny Mooney, of the NPSA, said: "Gentamicin is a highly effective antibiotic that is widely used for the treatment of neonatal infection.

"Frontline services should adopt this latest Patient Safety Alert to ensure high standards of care are taken in the prescribing, administrating and monitoring of this drug."

NPSA chief executive Andy Cole said it was important that parents were told of the risks of treatment.

He said: "It is imperative that all drugs are given as safely as possible to sick babies to ensure that adverse reactions are minimised.

Professor Neena Modi, of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "Newborn patient safety is an important issue. This project was supported by a wide range of organisations and parent groups concerned with newborn wellbeing."

Tags: Child Health | NHS | Nursing & Midwifery | Pharmaceuticals

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