A paediatrician at St John of God Hospital who failed to ensure antibiotics were administered on time to a newborn infant who would soon die has been found guilty of gross carelessness.
Neonatal paediatrician Robert James McClure was caring for a baby boy named Ethan at St John of God Hospital in Subiaco from soon after Ethan’s birth on August 1, 2005 until the baby’s transfer the next day to Princess Margaret Hospital.
Ethan died after being transferred from St John of God.
In a decision published today, the State Administrative Tribunal found Dr McClure guilty of gross carelessness.
The tribunal found Dr McClure had failed to ensure antibiotics were administered to Ethan within an acceptable time after the onset of a respiratory condition called ‘wet lung’.
It was also found that Dr McClure failed to examine Ethan after being advised of an abnormal blood gas result.
Finally, Dr McClure was found to have seen another patient without instituting emergency treatment and urgent transfer to Princess Margaret Hospital for Ethan, when the medico knew, or should have known, the baby urgently needed such attention.
The Medical Board of Western Australia has called for the suspension of Dr McLure’s registration as a medical practitioner, or the imposition of a fine or reprimand.
The tribunal is yet to consider the matter of penalty.
It noted that all that could be concluded about Dr McClure’s failure to administer antibiotics in a timely fashion was that Ethan might have survived if they had been administered, but he might also not have.