Lucy Letby is a British nurse recently charged with the murder of eight babies and the venture murder of ten more. The charges relate to deaths the between June 2015 and June 2016 at the Countess of Chester Hospital. Letby has denied all charges.
One of the babies who died under Letby’s care suffered a liver injury that prosecutors described as akin to a road traffic collision. The damage was caused by a lack of oxygen to the baby’s brain, which resulted in a buildup of pressure that caused the liver to rupture. This type of injury is rare in babies and is usually caused by trauma such as a car accident or a fall.
Letby, who worked in the neonatal unit at the hospital, allegedly administered fatal doses of medication to the babies in her care. The drug in question is said to have been a sedative used to treat babies with difficulty breathing. Letby is accused of deliberately administering the medication in fatal amounts to the babies.
Letby was arrested in 2018 as part of an investigation into several baby deaths at the hospital. She was free on bail pending further inquiries but was re-arrested in 2019 and subsequently charged with the murders.
The case has attracted widespread media attention and raised questions about neonatal care safety in the UK. It has also led to calls for greater transparency in how hospitals investigate incidents of potential harm to patients.
Letby’s trial is scheduled to begin in November 2022 and is expected to last for several months. The case has been described as one of the most complex and sensitive in the history of the Cheshire Constabulary.
In the meantime, Letby remains in custody and has been placed on suicide watch due to concerns for her mental health. Her family have released a statement expressing their shock and disbelief at the charges, describing Letby as a “kind and caring” person dedicated to her work.
The case has also prompted calls for more significant support for healthcare professionals working in high-pressure environments such as neonatal care. UK healthcare workers are often required to work long hours in stressful conditions, with limited resources and support. The job demands can take a toll on their mental health and lead to burnout and exhaustion.
There is a heightened recognition of the need to provide better support and training for healthcare workers, particularly those in high-risk specialities such as neonatal care. This includes access to counselling and mental health support, as well as training in communication and teamwork.
The case of Lucy Letby is a tragic reminder of the importance of patient safety and the need for healthcare workers to be supported in their work. It is also a prompting of the devastating impact of medical errors and harm on patients and their families.
As the trial approaches, the case will likely continue to attract media attention and scrutiny. It is essential that the test is conducted fairly and transparently and that the families of the babies who died are given the support and justice they deserve.
A baby boy who nurses Lucy Letby allegedly murdered suffered a liver injury akin to a road traffic collision, her trial has heard.
The 33-year-old nurse is said to have attacked the newborn infant on a day shift on 23 June 2016 at the Countess of Chester’s neonatal unit – following her return from a holiday to Ibiza.
Child O was born in good condition, Manchester Crown Court heard, until he instantly collapsed two days behind in the care of Letby and went evenly downhill as medics failed to revive him.
On Wednesday, paediatric pathologist Dr Andreas Marnerides said Child O died partially due to an “impact-type” internal liver injury – located after the baby’s death.
Jurors were shown post-mortem examination photographs which showed two unrelated sites of bruising and areas of a blood clot.
Dr Marnerides, who practises at London’s St Thomas’ Hospital, explained the photograph showed “large haemorrhaging into the liver”, which he had only seen before in a road traffic collision and non-accidental assaults from parents or carers.
He added: “I cannot assure myself that in the setting of a newborn unit, this would be a rational proposition to explain this. I don’t think CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] can produce this extensive injury to a liver.”
Asked what he believed to be the cause of death, Marnerides said: “In my view, the origin of death was inflicted traumatic injury to the liver, profound gastric and gastric distension following acute excessive injection/imbue of air via a nasogastric tube and air batch due to administration into a venous line.”