Hospital `left needle under skin of baby'

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The Independent Online
A newborn baby was discharged from a hospital in Cornwall with part of a hypodermic needle lodged deep under his skin, it was claimed yesterday. The parents of four-week-old Benjamin - Andrea and Steve Jones - allege that doctors had failed to act when the needle was spotted on an X-ray two weeks earlier.

The needle, similar to those used for taking blood samples, emerged from the baby's back last Wednesday as his mother was changing his nappy. "It was so unbelievable. I just stood there in total disbelief," Mrs Jones, 24, said.

The baby's father said last night that he and his wife would sue Treliske Hospital, in Truro. The hospital, part of the Royal Cornwall Hospital NHS Trust, is already at the centre of allegations that a nurse carried out an appendectomy there earlier thismonth.

Jan Honey of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust said last night it was not appropriate to discuss the case before an investigation was complete.

Benjamin Jones was born six weeks premature on Christmas Day, weighing 5lb 7oz. When he was 10 days old, a lumbar puncture and other tests were carried out because the baby seemed "unsettled". The next day a lump had developed on his stomach. "They took X-rays and ultrasound of it and we were informed there was nothing showing up on those," Mr Jones said.

Benjamin was discharged on 12 January. The lump was still visible - about the size of a five pence piece - but the couple said it had started to disappear. Then last week, as Mrs Jones was changing the baby's nappy, she rolled him over and saw somethingstuck on his back.

"She gripped it, he rolled over the other way and the needle came out from inside his back," Mr Jones, an air traffic controller at the Royal Navy air station at Culdrose, said.

The couple took Benjaminback to the hospital and said they were told that a needle had been inside the baby, it had now come out, and that it had shown up on an X-ray taken two weeks before.

When he asked to see the X-ray, the hospital told him that notes were being gathered for an investigation. "They assured us that a full inquiry was going on to see if there any changes in policy that could be taken by the hospital," Mr Jones added.

Ian Hope, chairman of the Cornwall Community Health Council, a patients' watchdog group, said the CHC was to meet with the trust board to discuss the incidents.

"We are obviously concerned about two clinical incidents in such a short space of time. We will be looking for assurance that strategies and practice are of the highest standards."