Dharik Patel and his wife brought their five-day-old daughter to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Canada, because she wasn’t feeding. Once admitted, she was fed through intravenous fluid administration.
However, the family claims that the nurses did not thoroughly check the intravenous fluid administration. The IV fluid allegedly slipped out of her veins and leaked to the surrounding tissue.
This, the family said, caused her tiny hand to break out into thick, yellow blisters.
Incorrect intravenous fluid administration damages newborn’s hands
“It was completely swollen. There was fluid coming out of her skin… There was a lot of blisters. It was just a painful experience for her and the whole family,” Patel told CTV Calgary.
The new parents allege that the hospital staff was not paying attention to their daughter. And that they should have checked the intravenous fluid administration every hour, but didn’t.
“Eight healthcare professionals have looked at my baby in a six hour span, nobody noticed this thing. It’s kind of scary,” Patel said.
After their complaint, the Alberta health authorities investigated the case.
Unfortunately, this is the second such case in the province. In January this year, a three-year-old girl’s hand reportedly broke out in painful blisters after she was kept hooked to an IV needle the whole night. The incident took place at Edmonton’s Stollery Hospital.
Hospital says intravenous fluid administration injuries are common
While further investigation will reveal more about the incident, the hospital claims such incidents are common in babies.
Dr. Francois Belanger, vice president of quality and Chief Medical Officer with Alberta Health Services, reportedly told CTV News that intravenous fluid administration does come with its fair share of challenges, especially for children.
“Complications can occur in approximately up to six per cent of adults and up to 11 per cent of children, so it is something we are aware about,” Dr Belanger explained.
He added that the hospital has a due process and they will assist the family in every way.
“We have a formal process by which we do a review and we look at what has happened,” Belanger said. “We look at the associated factors and we look at ways which we can prevent similar incidents to occur in the future. That’s what we call a quality assurance review.”
“We understand the family’s upset and our sympathies and our thoughts are with them and with their baby. We are ensuring that their baby gets the care that’s required and we apologise to the family with regards to the delay in speaking to them about the review that we are going to undertake. Once we have completed a review, the recommendations that come out of that will be shared with them as well,” Dr Belanger noted.
Dharik Patel and his wife bottle-feeding their baby girl | Image courtesy: CTV News
Meanwhile the parents are hoping and praying that their baby girl recovers soon.
“It was a painful situation for the baby, traumatising for her, I’m not sure if she’s ever going to be okay or if her hand is going to heal. We don’t know yet,” said Patel.
We hope for baby Patel’s speedy recovery as well.
Sadly, her case highlights the side effects of intravenous fluid administration, especially in kids.
Side effects of intravenous fluid administration in children
Not all IV fluids are the same or have the same effect. So it’s good to have a basic understanding of which fluid is given to your child.
Typically, there are three types of IV fluids.
- Isotonic. This has similar electrolyte composition as human blood.
- Hypotonic. This IV fluid has lesser electrolyte composition than human blood.
- Hypertonic. This fluid has a higher electrolyte concentration than human blood.
Depending on the type of intravenous fluid administration, the side effects can be the following:
- Edema. Over-infusion of intravenous fluid can lead to fluid retention and this can lead to swelling in the arms, wrist, feet and even the face. It could even lead to brain injury. A 2008 report in the Medical Journal of Australia states that “Fluid overload has no precise definition, but complications usually arise in the context of pre-existing cardiorespiratory disease and severe acute illness.”
- Shortness of breath. Excess fluid retention can also cause pulmonary edema, crackling sounds in the lungs, shortness of breath, chest pain and cognitive heart failure.
- High blood pressure. Again, with excessive fluid in the body, the pulse becomes stronger and increases blood pressure. The heart may beat faster than usual, and the patient may need immediate medical attention.
- Anxiety. A patient can also have serious pulmonary injuries if the sodium content in the blood escalates. This could lead to anxiety, lethargy, and decreased level of consciousness as well.
- Decreased urination. Because excess fluid accumulates within the body, it can cause urinary output to drop.
With these side effects in mind, make sure you ask the doctors about the type of IV fluid that they may give to your child and how hospital staff will monitor the outcomes.
Sources: CTV News, Livestrong
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