Ababy boy who was born in Australia in 2016 died just an hour after his birth due to a deadly gas bungle caused by inadequate testing of new gas equipment, an inquest has heard.
Minutes after his birth on July 13, 2016, baby boy John Ghanem began to have trouble breathing, letting out a “weak cry” as the team of doctors at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital tried to pump gas through the baby’s body. The team was perplexed when the baby did not respond to the treatment.
Later on, it was found that what doctors thought was a steady supply of oxygen was actually nitrous oxide, causing John’s death, News.com.au reported.
“John had lived for just under one hour,” counsel assisting the coroner Donna Ward said at the inquest held at the Lidcombe Coroners Court Monday. “Ultimately, [his parents] Sonya and Youssef got to spend time with their baby boy but this was after John had died.”
Ward told the court that the gas panel installed in theater eight of the hospital a year prior to the baby’s birth was not tested adequately, if at all. She added that the subcontractors responsible for installing the panel had overlooked a cross-connection issue in the roof space, causing the nitrous oxide and oxygen lines to be mislabeled.
Christopher Turner, the contractor held responsible for the mix-up, later pleaded guilty to failing to comply with his work health and safety duty and was fined $100,000.
“His [John’s] death also affected the doctors and nurses at Bankstown-Lidcombe Hospital who had fought so hard to keep him alive. Even after the events, his death made no sense to the treating team,” she continued.
Ward’s report was able to explain why John’s condition did not improve even when the doctors began pumping what they thought was oxygen into his airways. Despite being given 50% oxygen and, later on, 100% oxygen, John was still struggling to breathe because what the doctors were giving him was nitrous oxide, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
John exhibited “pulseless electrical activity” even after the doctors administered CPR and died within minutes.
Just weeks before John’s death, a baby girl named Amelia Khan was left with permanent brain damage after she was also accidentally given nitrous oxide after being born in the same operating theater.
Nitrous oxide, more commonly known as laughing gas, is a sedative used in procedures to help patients relax. Considered a depressant, nitrous oxide slows a patient’s body down and can cause side effects such as headaches, body coordination issues and nausea, according to Web MD.
When nitrous oxide is administered to children, doctors immediately give 100% oxygen after the procedure to allow the children to fully recover within minutes.