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Second baby dies after hospital medication mix up

Two weeks after a newborn baby died at Bern's hospital after allegedly being given the wrong medication, another baby, which had been given the same drugs, has also died. A hospital official said the baby did not die as a result of the medical error.

"The baby was hospitalised in an intensive care unit because it was very very ill, " Bernhard Kommer, spokesman for Bern's Inselspital told swissinfo. "Wednesday's death is not related to last month's medical accident, but the baby's heavy illness," he said.

Last month, three newborn babies at the university clinic were given the wrong medication, allegedly containing calcium instead of glucose. One child died on December 20 as a result of the error, while the two others seemed to recover.

However, doctors feared that they might develop medical problems later on.

The justice authorities have launched a criminal inquiry into the death of the first baby. The investigating magistrate, Hanspeter Kiener, said that the inquiry was focusing on staff at the hospital pharmacy as well as a company which had provided medical equipment to the hospital.

Officials at the hospital said the mix up was the result of an error that occurred at the hospital pharmacy in January 1999.

At the time, employees of a medical company were testing a sterilisation installation for medicines at the pharmacy. Reports say pharmacy staff continued production of a glucose solution.

Nearly 300 bottles of the solution have been confiscated. The authorities say they have found a few bottles, which contained calcium instead of glucose.

The incident in Bern is the second case in three years in which medicine is known to have been mixed up in a Swiss hospital. A patient died in a Lucerne hospital in 1998 after mistakenly been given a lethal injection.

swissinfo with agencies

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