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Baby burned in hospital accident

A 24-DAY-OLD baby boy was seriously burned in a hospital in Hubei Province after falling off a table onto a heater, today's Changjiang Times reported.

The Hubei provincial health authorities have launched an inquiry into the accident, the Wuhan-based newspaper said.

The nurse involved has been fired.

The hospital's initial investigation found that the nurse, 22, surnamed Deng, was about to bathe the baby on March 16, when she was called away to treat another seriously ill baby, leaving the baby on an operating table.

Five minutes later she returned to the baby and found it had fallen off the table and onto a heater. The baby suffered burns to his face, chest, legs and hips.

The tragedy attracted a great deal of publicity after the boy's mother, surnamed Le, talked about it in an online post.

The mother, who was also a doctor with the hospital, was very depressed, the baby's grandfather, surnamed Qin, told the Changjiang Times.

He said the baby had been taken to the Xiaogan Central Hospital, Xiaogan's best hospital, to be treated for pneumonia on March 12. The parents were kept out of the ward.

On March 16, the hospital told the boy's family the boy had to be transferred to another hospital. But when they got to the hospital they discovered the baby had been burned, Qin said.

After treatment at Wuhan No.3 People's Hospital, the baby is recovering. The area of skin affected has shrunk from 12 percent to 4 percent, according to a doctor surnamed Yu.

But the boy will have to undergo several skin transplants before he fully recovers, the doctor said.

The mother is uncertain about the effects of transplants as the baby is so young.

She worries the baby may be permanently disabled as some of its joints were seriously burned.

"Thinking about this, I feel so distressed," she wrote in the online post.

The Xiaogan Central Hospital said it takes full responsibility for the accident. An official surnamed Luo said "the hospital is completely to blame."

He said the nurse erred by leaving the baby on the table. She did not expect a baby that young would be able to move.

The hospital has taken measures to cure the baby, Luo said. It sent staff to work with the Wuhan No.3 People's Hospital.

Safety guards have now been placed on the hospital's heaters to prevent similar accidents.

The nurse Deng has felt very guilty about the accident. In a letter to the baby's family, she apologized and blamed herself for the accident, saying she was willing to accept any punishment.

The nurse was called to help with another baby on the day of the accident because the hospital is short of staff, sources close to the hospital told the Changjiang Times report.

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