After a newborn baby was born at the Flinders Medical Centre in south Adelaide, Australia, the baby’s abnormal heartbeat went unnoticed for twenty-six minutes. Instead of checking on the newborn baby, the nursing staff at the hospital accidentally monitored the baby’s mother’s heart rate, which was normal, instead. Now, it has been decided that baby Bodhi Leo Searle’s death on August 31, 2021, just one day after he was born in Adelaide, could have been “potentially preventable” if the nursing staff had learned about his “abnormal” heart rate in the minutes after his delivery instead of accidentally monitoring mom’s normal heart rate.
Australian coroner Naomi Kereru has led an investigation into the newborn baby’s death. This inquiry is looking at the circumstances following little Bodhi’s birth and his subsequent death one day after delivery. In the inquiry, it has come forward that Australian nursing staff at the delivery hospital had been mistakenly monitoring mom Diana Searle’s heart rate instead of the sick newborn baby boy’s.
According to a report published in the Adelaide Advertiser, counsel assisting the coroner Sally Giles claimed that the newborn baby’s death could have been “potentially preventable” if the hospital staff had correctly monitored his heartbeat instead of mom’s.
Mom Diana Searle had a normal pregnancy leading up to the birth of little Bodhi. She went into labor on her thirtieth birthday on August 29, 2021, and quickly checked into the Flinders Medical Center to receive treatment from the experts in residence there.
Unfortunately, Searle’s planned midwife was sick, so she was put under the care of midwife Stephanie Geyer and first-year student midwife Thea Koke. Searle checked into the hospital at about 5:30 pm on the day of her thirtieth birthday.
Geyer first noticed that something was abnormal about Bodhi’s heart rate at 11:26 pm. The pregnant mom was taken to the medical ward, where she was set up for CTG monitoring at about 11:44 pm, which meant that the hospital was acting swiftly to monitor the situation.
“However, at approximately 12:15 am, it was identified that for around 30 minutes, the CTG trace had been recording the maternal heart rate and not the fetal,” she said. “Corrections were made to identify the fetal heart rate, which by that time was severely abnormal.”
After that, the registrar and only obstetrician in the ward confessed that they were “not feeling confident” to perform a “complex instrumental delivery on her own.”
Bodhi was delivered before 1 am without instrumental intervention. Giles said it was “immediately apparent” that Bodhi’s health was failing. The newborn baby was blue and pale.
“There was no evidence of any respiratory effort, and there was no identifiable heart rate or pulse present,” Giles said.
It took Bodhi eighteen minutes before he took his first breath after birth. He was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit, where doctors found he was suffering from abnormal brain activity. Bodhi died a day later at 1:18 pm on August 31, 2021.