Vietnam minister says switched shots caused 3 newborns' deaths

By Thanh Nien News, TN News

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Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien (R) replies to a question at the National Assembly April 1. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre newspaper

Police in the north-central province of Quang Tri  have concluded that the deaths of three newborns last year following vaccination were caused by a nurse giving them wrong shots, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said Tuesday.


Replying to members’ queries during a Q&A session at the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, Tien said the police arrived at the conclusion after months of investigations and Nguyen Thi Thuan, the nurse at the Huong Hoa District General Hospital who vaccinated the newborns, admitted to using the wrong medicine.
But she did not indicate what shot had been given by the nurse.
On Tuesday a source from the Quang Tri police, who asked not to be named, told Thanh Nien that Thuan had given an anesthetic by mistake.
But the police have yet to make an official announcement though they arrested Thuan last week and said she would be held for four months for investigation into manslaughter charges.
On Monday the police summoned four hospital officials for questioning.
On July 20 last year Thuan, who had worked as a nurse for more than 20 years, gave hepatitis B shots to two girls and a boy with the assistance of another nurse.
The babies turned blue 30 minutes later and had difficulty breathing.
They were rushed to the ER, but doctors failed to save their lives.
A report by the hospital said the newborns died of an allergic reaction.
Thuan was suspended, but the police failed to find evidence to link her with the deaths, and she was allowed to return to work more than six months later.
Unnamed sources on the internet said the hospital had a power outage on the day the babies were vaccinated.
Thuan had used the light from her mobile-phone screen to find the vaccines and thus made the mistake, they said.
Quang Tri authorities denied the allegations as did Thuan herself.
The Quang Tri health department said the vaccines  had been made by the Ministry of Health-owned Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1.
The hepatitis B vaccine is usually administered to babies within 24 hours after birth and for free since 1997 under the national vaccination program.
A second, third, and fourth shots are given when a baby is two, three, and four months old.
Some 10 infants died in 2007 after getting hepatitis B vaccines.

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