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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK


Hospital blunder led to malaria death

Malaria is normally spread by mosquitoes

A man died from the tropical disease malaria following a mistake at one of the country's top hospitals, an inquest was told on Friday.

Gavin Sebborn, 22, died in March this year after being discharged from Nottingham City Hospital.

He had been admitted suffering from pneumonia - and infected while receiving routine treatment.

He was found dead by a friend at a hostel in the city a week after he left the hospital.

At Nottingham Coroner's Court, the jury heard that three patients were given injections of saline solution from the same bottle - which had earlier had been used during an emergency operation on a patient severely ill with the disease.

[ image: David Sebborn is calling for an inquiry]
David Sebborn is calling for an inquiry
Mr Sebborn's parents have alreadly received undisclosed compensation from the hospital - now they are calling for a public inquiry.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death.

Although cases of malaria are diagnosed in this country, they are almost always found to have been contracted on trips abroad, to areas where malarial mosquitoes are more common.

But Mr Sebborn had not been abroad before he fell ill.

Other patients affected

Both of the patients given infected saline were also found to have contracted malaria, though both were subsequently treated successfully.

Mr Sebborn said that there was no longer any reason why hospitals might have to use a single dose of saline on more than one patient.

After the hearing, he said: "We are calling for a public inquiry to ascertain where these procedures are used and to ensure that they are not used.

"Unfortunately, there is an issue of finance here."

The hospital has admitted that the saline should have been thrown away immediately after the operation on the malaria sufferer - not given to any other patients.

They said they had changed their procedures, and would be releasing their own internal report into the incident later this year.

Parasite can kill

Approximately 300 million people worldwide are affected by malaria and between one and 1.5 million people die from it every year.

It is generally spread by mosquitoes, which carry the plasmodium parasite and pass it on when they bite humans.

Previously extremely widespread, it is now mainly confined to Africa, Asia and Latin America, although malarial mosquitoes have been found in other areas, and even occasionally in the UK.

The symptoms - fever, shivering, pain in the joints and headache - quickly disappear once the parasites have been killed, although, in certain regions, the parasites have developed resistance to certain antimalarial drugs.

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