Families of babies who contracted E. coli sue UK hospital where staff did not wash their hands

Being a handwashing nerd, I kept a close eye on the staff at Manhattan’s Mercy General when daughter Sorenne was born 17 months ago.

They were watching me. Whoever was the control desk and let a new parent or visitor into the security-controlled maternity ward would insist people properly wash their hands before advancing any further.

Not so everywhere.

The Daily Mail is reporting tonight that furious parents are suing a hospital where two babies died during an E. coli outbreak after it emerged staff probably spread the infection by not washing their hands.

Thirteen newborn babies contracted an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bug at the neonatal intensive care unit of Luton and Dunstable Hospital in Bedfordshire.

An official report says widespread breaches of infection control measures, such as poor hand-washing regimes and equipment cleaning, were the likely cause.

The parents of two infants who became critically ill but survived the 12-week E. coli outbreak in October 2008 are seeking undisclosed sums from the hospital over the long-term health implications.

Colette Beard, 31, and her husband Greg, 28, said their son Lewis (above, right) suffered ‘permanent damage’ from the infection after he was born 15 weeks early on September 15, 2008. He spent four months recovering.