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Wednesday, 8 December, 1999, 17:02 GMT
Hospital blunder poisoned baby girl
A baby was given a huge overdose of sugar


A baby girl died in hospital after a doctor's mistake led to her being flooded with a huge dose of sugar solution.

Three-day-old Olivia Haines Dowling's body began to swell up after a massive overdose of dextrose mix, but her parents were assured by Tameside General Hospital in Greater Manchester that their daughter, who only weighed 2lb, would be fine.

Tameside General and Hope Hospital in Salford, where Olivia was transferred on the day she died last June, have now apologised to parents Deborah Hitchen and Andy Dowling, of Openshaw, Manchester, for the "tragic accident".

Olivia had been born by Caesarian section six weeks premature and was prescribed intravenous dextrose solution by a female locum because she had a low blood sugar level.

But the fluid was allowed to run freely into her body instead of in a regulated drip.

A midwife later realised there was a problem and stopped the infusion of dextrose.

Mr Dowling and Ms Hitchen first noticed something was wrong over the first few days after the birth of their daughter.

They noticed she was swelling up and had sores on her skin but were told there was nothing to worry about.

A doctor eventually admitted to Ms Hitchen that her baby was ill and had been given an overdose of fluid.

Olivia was then transferred to Hope Hospital to see a kidney specialist and to have an operation, but had two heart attacks on the way, and later died.

10,000 offer

The couple were offered 10,000 by hospital bosses but they rejected this and are planning legal action. The couple's lawyer, John Kitchingman, said: "The figure currently offered to Deborah and Andy, of 10,000, represents only a little more than statutory figure for bereavement, which is 7,500.

"Like many bereaved parents Deborah and Andy find it difficult to accept they should be offered such a small figure for the loss of their precious child."

An independent panel which carried out an investigation into the circumstances of Olivia's death found the hospital trusts were responsible for a series of errors.

The nurse and midwife involved have been reprimanded and are being retrained and the locum doctor is being counselled over her conduct.

A spokeswoman for the trusts said they regretted the tragedy and sent their deepest sympathies to Olivia's parents.

"The report to the inquiry panel has been discussed by both trust boards and have been made available to baby Olivia's parents."

She added: "The trust recognises that these steps will not help baby Olivia's parents deal with their tragic loss but we hope that they will reassure the parents of other babies."

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said they were waiting for the coroner to decide if the death was a tragic accident or if the hospitals were negligent, but a file had been sent to the Crown Prosecution Service.

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10 Feb 99 |  Health
Failing doctors 'will be banned'
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