Investigation after boy, 3, dies following eye operation


Justice officials are investigating the death of a three-year-old boy whose oxygen supply failed during an eye operation.

The prosecution service (OM) confirmed to the Telegraaf that the child died three days after the operation at the Juliana Children’s Hospital in The Hague on March 30.

Further details were not disclosed to protect the family’s privacy. Both the hospital and the public prosecutor are investigating how the boy suffered a fatal loss of oxygen.

“He was transferred to another hospital for specific life-saving procedures, but these were not successful,” the OM said in a statement.

A spokesman for the Haga Ziekenhuis, the hospital which contains the children’s facility, said no statements would be made “in the interests of the investigation and the privacy of those involved”.

Jan Klein, emeritus professor of patient safety at Delft University of Technology, told the Telegraaf it was “highly unusual” for someone to die from oxygen deprivation during or after an operation.

Modern operating theaters are equipped with a monitor that sets off an alarm if the patient’s oxygen level drops too low, Klein said. “The boy’s blood pressure, pulse and temperature should also have been observed. So it’s unclear to me how all these signals could have been missed.”

Healthcare research bureau NIVEL and the Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute recently concluded that just over 1,000 people a year die in “avoidable” circumstances in hospital. Babies and people over 65 account for 70% of casualties.

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