MADRID – A young nurse with no experience in neonatal care made a mistake that caused the death of an infant born to the first person in Spain to die of swine flu, a government official said.
The place where the error occurred, Madrid's Gregorio Maranon Hospital, was the same hospital that sent the mother home twice in June when she sought treatment for fever and respiratory trouble, before it finally diagnosed her as having swine flu.
The nurse had worked in pediatrics and critical care, but was on her first day on the job in the neonatal intensive care unit when she used the wrong technique to feed the premature infant, the Madrid regional health minister, Juan Jose Guemes, said in a radio interview late Monday.
The nurse and a nursing assistant involved in the case were suspended pending an investigation, he said. The Health Ministry said the assistant was reinstated on Tuesday.
The infant boy was delivered June 29 — his Moroccan mother's 20th birthday — via Cesarean section as the 28-week-pregnant woman's condition worsened.
She died the next day and doctors later said the baby, named Rayan, did not have swine flu. The woman has been identified as Dalila Mimouni.
The child died because the nurse fed him baby formula intravenously rather than with a tube running through his nose and into his stomach, hospital managing director Antonio Barba said, calling it "a horrific error."
The country's main nursing union came to her defense on Tuesday, cautioning against reaching "hasty conclusions" until the investigation is completed.
Spanish hospitals do not have enough nurses, and some of those they do have lack specialized training for assignments like neonatal care, the Nursing Union said in a statement.
Guemes said he had spoken Monday to the widower, named only as Mohamed, a Moroccan-born Spaniard aged 21, and found him to be strong, despite losing his wife and son.
Mohamed was said to be considering suing the Gregorio Maranon Hospital and another Madrid-area hospital because they sent his wife home three times before she was diagnosed with swine flu on June 16.
Now he plans to bury his son next to his wife, then return to Spain and mull his next move. "I've lost everything," he told the El Pais newspaper.
Mimouni's mother Aziza had arrived in Madrid on Monday to help take care of the baby. She lost her husband five years ago in a workplace accident in Spain's Catalonia region.
"I don't know what else can happen," she told El Pais.