Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[0] DEADLY GAS DOCTOR NAMED; Leading Consultant Made Blunder That Killed Girl Aged 3

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

[0] DEADLY GAS DOCTOR NAMED; Leading Consultant Made Blunder That Killed Girl Aged 3

Article excerpt


A HIGH-PROFILE hospital consultant made a crucial error by giving a three-year-old girl laughing gas instead of oxygen which caused her death, an inquiry reveals today.

Andrew Hobart, a former junior doctors' leader at the British Medical Association, was an accident and emergency consultant at Newham General Hospital when Najiyah Hussain died.

An internal inquiry ordered by the hospital immediately after the blunder today names Mr Hobart, 36, as the consultant responsible.

It says: "The consultant made a medical error by administering nitrous oxide instead of oxygen. This was done by inadvertently opening the nitrous oxide valve rather than the oxygen on the Boyles machine that delivers medical gases in the resuscitation room."

Najiyah, of Manor Park, was taken to accident and emergency on 18 January, suffering fits. However, instead of being given oxygen to help her breathe her body was flooded with the anaesthetic gas, which is highly toxic in its purest form. Najiyah's heart rate plummeted and attempts to revive her failed.

The Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether criminal charges should be brought against any medical staff or managers at the east London hospital.

The inquiry's findings fall short of calling for Mr Hobart's dismissal or for him to be referred to the General Medical Council for disciplinary proceedings.

It adds: "The panel found no evidence of a record of carelessness, previous clinical incidents or medical errors on the part of Mr Hobart." The report says Mr Hobart demonstrated "genuine remorse" for the error and is prepared to learn from his mistake.

It recommends that Mr Hobart, who has been suspended from the hospital, should undergo a period of supervised retraining in accident and emergency, intensive care and anaesthetics. The retraining should not be carried out at Newham Hospital, it says.

While the inquiry found that it was Mr Hobart's mistake that caused Najiyah's death, the report also makes 20 recommendations about improving the safety of equipment used in A&E departments around the country.

The report describes how Mr Hobart took charge of Najiyah's airway and breathing when she was brought into casualty.

It took about eight to 10 minutes for the error to be discovered, at which point a paediatric cardiac arrest team was called in. Najiyah died about four hours later when a life support machine was turned off. Mr Hobart said today: "I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the family of Najiyah Hussain and to say how very sorry I am about the death of their daughter.

"I am unable to say any more as a coroner's investigation is ongoing."

The report says of Mr Hobart: "In the time that he had worked for the Trust, it was clear that Mr Hobart had rapidly built a team ethos with both medical and nursing colleagues and was widely respected as an effective and competent consultant colleague. …

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