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Baby Deaths Blamed on Arrogance, Mismanagement

British health officials promise sweeping changes

Almost three dozen babies who underwent open-heart surgery died because of the arrogance of physicians and poor management at a hospital in Bristol, England. That's the conclusion of an investigation into the deaths, according to this story in Britain's Independent.

The children's deaths occurred between 1991 and 1995 at the Bristol Royal Infirmary. The two physicians involved, James Wisheart and Janardan Dhasmana, claimed that the deaths of one-third of the babies were part of a "learning curve" to improve their skills.

But the investigation likens the situation to a "Greek tragedy," in which "warning signs were not recognized by clinicians ... and vulnerable children were not the priority," the paper reports. "This is an account of a hospital where there was a club culture, an imbalance of power, with too much control in the hands of a few individuals. It is an account in which vulnerable children were not a priority," the investigation states.

British health officials have promised significant changes. Already, they have issued new guidelines to help parents understand medical procedures before agreeing to treatment, and have created a new post, national director of children's healthcare services. The BBC reports that hospitals and their staffs across Britain will be under greater scrutiny to ensure they meet the standards.

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