Sunday, April 19, 2009

What can cause seizures in an infant?

The Al-Mahdhari family received their fourth daughter with a hope to see her sleeping on her small bed as soon as her mother was discharged from Saber private hospital in Mansoura, Aden, where she gave birth.

The baby was born on Friday, March 6 and was to be discharged by the hospital with the mother on Monday morning because the mother, Marwa, had a cesarean. On Sunday night the mother, was having difficulty breathing that she was given oxygen.

“The nurses used to give me the baby four times a day for breast feeding. When they brought her on Sunday night at around 10 P.M. the baby was crying so much and not able to breast feed. I told them that I think she was having difficulty breathing. They took her from me and the next morning they brought her again to me but she was still crying and her nose was bleeding,” said the mother.

The painting was mainly in the reception area and corridors between the incubators where the infants were kept and the maternity ward were the new mothers stay. The father, Toufiq Al-Madrahi suspects that their daughter inhaled the paint while she was going back and forth passing by fresh paint. Three other new born babies died during the same week.

However, the following morning after the shift doctor signed the discharge paper for mother and baby to go home, the little baby was reported dead. She died as a result of inhaling toxic fumes from the newly painted walls of the hospital.

Around eight a.m. on Monday, a doctor brought the baby to her aunt, telling her to urgently rush the baby to another hospital because the baby could not breathe. She died almost at once in the second hospital which diagnosed the cause of death as a severe deficiency in her circulation and respiratory systems. Her death came just four days after she was born.

Al-Madrahi, claimed that he has a forensic medical report stating the cause of death.

“They painted the hospital in the presence of patients and new born children. The components used in painting are dangerous and cause asphyxiation. This resulted in three children’s deaths, and my newborn child was the fourth,” said Al-Mahdhari. “Those who killed my daughter by their carelessness are no different from Israeli soldiers who kill Gaza’s children with their guns.”

Following the death of his daughter, Al-Mahdhari filed a complaint to all concerned authorities, including the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, the ministry sent a committee to inspect the hospital’s internal environment and to check the painting and toxic fumes complaint.

The committee issued a report stating that the maternity ward is agreeable with medical standards except for the painting issue, which they highlighted. The report indicated that there was a smell of fresh paint in the second floor in the maternity ward which can cause asphyxiation, especially for new born children.

The committee retrieved the files of the mother and child in question to follow up on the case.

Although the law of medical negligence has been issued since 2000, it is still questionable why no authority takes responsibility for executing it. Many victims of medical negligence are losing their rights due to the absence a formal legal system used as a reference point for negligence disputes.

Al-Madrahi’s daughter’s forensic report proves that the cause of the newborn girl’s death was inhalation of harmful chemicals which inflame respiratory tissues. It is regarded as harmful for adults too.

“My daughter was a healthy baby. The hospital’s carelessness was the only cause of her death” said Al-Mahdhari, who is currently suing the hospital, accusing them of causing the wrongful death of his child.

“The Ministry of Health can not demand or be responsible for closing any hospital because of its administration policies, even if there were medical mistakes, unless the court sentences its closure. However, we may close a hospital for other legislative reasons, such as if it has no license,” said Dr. Assem Al-Samaoy, the general director of private medical buildings in the Ministry of Health.

Regarding medical negligence cases, Al- Samaoy added that it is the responsibility of the Supreme Medical Council and not the Ministry of Health’s responsibility.

Although the Supreme Medical Council is regarded as the formal place for anyone who suspects medical negligence or medical malpractice, most doctors and hospitals either do not know of this council or do not acknowledge it.

Consequently, the plaintive of any medical negligence case is not aware of who will bring the negligent person responsible. Furthermore, there are no practical steps to implement this law according to concerned bodies such as the Ministry of Health and the Doctors’ Syndicate.

“People whose children died in Saber Hospital were misinformed that it was the will of God, and they accepted that blindly,” said Al-Mahdhari. “When people’s carelessness is the reason, then why do they regard it as a matter of fate or God’s will?” he asked.

However, one of the reasons that results in postponing any practical steps of establishing the Supreme Medical Council is the random work of Doctors Syndicates, Al-Samaoy regarded. “There are three syndicates of doctors: the Doctors’ Syndicate, the Pharmacists Syndicate, and the Dentists Syndicate. These three do not cooperate and they all work independently from each other,” he said.

Although the autopsy done for the little baby proves the cause of death, Saber hospital does not consider the report to be credible because it was done by an independent agency and not by the government.

Yemen Times attempted to contact Saber Hospital staff but the deputy director, Mr. Waheeb Al-Kazmi, refused to comment except to deny that these are all false accusations against the hospital.

Paint and your health

Liquid paint and varnish removers are among the most toxic products used in homes and workshops. The active ingredients inmost common paint removers are organic solvents which may damage the skin, eyes, respiratory tract, nervous system, and internal organs. Special precautions must be taken in their use, especially if there are children present who might come in contact with either the material or its vapors. Paint stripper formulations in paste form are less hazardous than the liquid forms because they only contain around 50% solvents rather than 100% as found in the liquid forms.

Respiratory System Damage

All solvents can irritate the sensitive membranes of the nose and throat to varying degrees. Solvent concentrations which can irritate nose and throat membranes also may be capable of damaging sensitive lung tissue. These inhaled substances commonly enter the blood stream here they can attack other internal organs and the nervous system.

Skin Diseases

All solvents can cause skin disease (dermatitis) by dissolving the skin’s natural protective barrier of oils. If the skin experiences enough direct contact with a solvent, it can turn dry and white and become cracked and fissured. In case of skin or eye contact, wash immediately to avoid burns and other serious damage.

Damage to Internal Organs

Dermal contact with paint remover solvents, besides causing deterioration of the skin, can result in absorption through the skin. Damage to the skin may lead to greater penetration of the solvents, resulting in internal organ injury. Chronic exposure may damage the liver and kidneys, which are responsible for detoxification and elimination of toxic chemicals from the body. Certain solvents can cause heart damage. Benzene, an ingredient in paint removers up until 1978, can damage bone marrow, causing aplastic anemia and leukemia.

Brain and Nervous System Damage

The most commonly experienced symptom of acute solvent exposure is narcosis or intoxication resulting from the solvent causing depression of the central nervous system (CNS). Drinking or inhaling grain or ethyl alcohol produces similar results. CNS depression can produce varied symptoms including irritability, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, sleepiness, loss of coordination and reflexes, nausea, and a staggering gait. Although these acute effects are reversible if exposure to the solvent is discontinued, narcosis symptoms are an indication of overexposure to a solvent. Chronic exposure may cause permanent brain damage, including behavioral changes, loss of memory, decreased intellectual abilities, confusion, seizures, etc.



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