In writing about medical malpractice, in previous blog posts we noted the high incidence of safety issues for Florida hospital patients. Sadly, the problem is not limited to Florida. Indeed, all over the world there are concerns about medical standards of care in hospitals, ranging from failure to appropriately supervise a patient and medication errors to birth injuries and surgical mistakes. It seems that almost daily we read of another incident involving malpractice in our medical institutions.

A disturbing case was reported last month from Malda — also known as English Bazar and sometimes referred to a Mango City — a city in West Bengal, India. A woman had her first child by caesarian section at the Malda District Hospital. The child was placed in an incubator due to problems with respiratory distress following her birth. When the father visited on August 27, around 10:30 pm, a family member told him that red ants were crawling over the baby in the incubator. The father could not find a nurse, but got an attendant to remove the ants.

When the father returned the next day, authorities told him the baby had died at around 3:00 a.m. He and his wife have filed a complaint with local police authorities, and they are investigating the allegations. The hospital is also investigating the cause of death, along with the government’s Office of Women and Child Development.

Red ants are prevalent in Asia and also in the southeastern part of the United States. They are said to have been introduced to the U.S. through the Mobile, Alabama seaport in the 1930’s. They are not generally considered life-threatening to humans though they have been known to cause infant deaths.

While it remains to be seen what the results of the investigations in India will reveal, the case is yet another reminder that everyone needs to exercise caution in medical institutions.

One medical professor, who recently lost her mother to hospital medication errors and infections, suggests that patients bring sterile disinfectant cloths from home and wipe down everything in a hospital room. In Florida, those who suspect negligence or other wrongful conduct in a hospital or medical center would benefit by consulting an attorney devoted to helping victims of medical malpractice in order to hold negligent parties accountable.

Source: The Telegraph, “Newborn dead, dad blames ants – Hospital orders probe, says charges yet to be established,” Aug. 29, 2011