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Change to sepsis advice after mums' herpes deaths

Advice on how new mothers with sepsis should be treated is to change after two women died of a herpes infection.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says viral sources of infections should be considered and appropriate treatment offered. This comes after the BBC revealed one surgeon might have infected the mothers while performing Caesareans on them.

The East Kent Hospitals Trust said it had not been possible to identify the source of either infection.

Kimberley Sampson, 29, and Samantha Mulcahy, 32, died of an infection caused by the herpes virus 44 days apart in 2018, shortly after giving birth by Caesarean section.

Their families were told there was no link between the deaths but BBC News revealed on Monday that both operations had been carried out by the same surgeon.

Documents we uncovered showed that the trust had been told two weeks after the second death that "it does look like surgical contamination".

Edward Morris, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which set standards in maternity care, said routine investigation and management of maternal sepsis "should always consider viral sources of infection, and appropriate changes should be instituted to support earlier diagnosis and treatment".

Medics treating Ms Sampson and Mrs Mulcahy assumed they were suffering from a bacterial infection and didn't prescribe the anti-viral medication that may had saved their lives.

The Royal College said the two deaths should be "fully investigated" as "surgical infection appears to be a significant possibility".

But BBC News has learned that the East Kent Hospitals Trust, which treated both women, never told the coroner's office that the same surgeon had carried out both operations or that an investigation they had ordered had suggested the virus strains the two women had died from appeared to be "epidemiologically linked".

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Source: BBC News, 23 November 2021


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