Baby tragically dies from sepsis in Portugal
The baby was pronounced dead on Friday evening after their condition worsened.
The death has led to demands for an investigation in Portugal after reports emerged that a helicopter had to be scrambled because a lack of specialist staff made a road transfer impossible.
The unnamed child is believed to have fallen ill with bronchitis before doctors discovered he had septicaemia. The child was reportedly kept at Portimao Hospital after their condition worsened.
Initial reports, later rebutted by health officials, claimed the child died after waiting six hours to be transferred due to a lack of specialist staff.
Portuguese daily Correio da Manha said medics in the Algarve initially sought a transfer to Santa Cruz Hospital in Lisbon before the decision was taken to use an air ambulance to take the youngster to Faro instead.
The baby was described as a “foreign child” and sources confirmed on Sunday that he was British and on holiday with his family.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Portugal’s National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM), a Ministry of Health agency said it had received a request from Portimao Hospital to transport an 11-month-old baby to an intensive care paediatric unit at 2.18pm local time on Friday.
They said the child was “properly accompanied” by the hospital’s paediatric teams at the time.
In a statement, they said: “Because Faro Hospital found itself without paediatrics and with the Paediatric Inter-Hospital Transport Ambulance (TIP) inoperative due to the lack of a hospital doctor and TIP Lisbon engaged on another medical emergency job, INEM initiated the necessary procedures with a view to activating the Algarve helicopter. This was done at just after 3pm the same day.”
The INEM spokesperson said the baby experienced a “worsening of its clinical condition which prevented the transfer and led to the medical teams returning to Portimao Hospital around 5.45pm after initiating procedures for the helicopter journey”.
They added: “INEM deeply regrets the outcome of this situation and we send our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the baby’s family.”
Head of the Portuguese Union of pre-hospital emergency technicians, Rui Lazaro, said other solutions could have been activated, including the transfer of the specialist medical team to Portimao Hospital by helicopter.
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Mr Lazaro said: “They could have come from Lisbon, or Coimbra, or even from Porto. Someone from INEM or from the guidance centre for emergency patients must have made that decision not to activate that option.
“We don’t know why it occurred and this needs to be properly investigated. The appropriate means were not made available in a timely manner.”
Sources said the child was put on antibiotics after they were diagnosed with bronchitis and was getting better before his condition worsened. He was diagnosed with septicaemia at Portimao Hospital.
One source told the Mirror: “The main problem was that the ambulance that would normally have taken the child to Faro Hospital was inoperative because there was no paediatric emergency physician available. It was off-duty for 24 hours.”
Following the child’s death, their parents have been offered expert care from psychologists trained in helping people with grief.
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