An ‘attention seeking’ healthcare worker has been spared jail for giving a four-month-old baby a powerful laxative while it was in hospital.
The 35-year-old woman, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was arrested after traces of the drug were found as part of an investigation into the child’s worsening condition.
The infant had first been admitted suffering from diarrhoea before being transferred to a specialist unit where it underwent a series of procedures under general anaesthetic.
But the cause of his condition remained a mystery until tests revealed they had been drugged with the medication Lactulose.
The woman pleaded guilty in court to having given the baby the laxative.
An NHS worker who pleaded guilty to poisoning a baby with a powerful laxative has avoided jail. The baby was admitted to Basingstoke and North Hampshire hospital (pictured) with severe diarrhoea and doctors could not find a cause until tests found Lactulose in its system
She was described as a ‘hypochondriac’ who often sought attention, and was reported to be ‘apparently upset’ by the deterioration of the child’s condition.
The court heard the infant was first admitted to hospital in Basingstoke, Hampshire, in June 2019 with diarrhoea symptoms, and was re-admitted later that month after its weight dropped and symptoms worsened.
Medics had described the infant as being ‘considerably unwell’, with high levels of acid found in the blood, Southampton Crown Court heard.
The baby was then transferred to another hospital in Southampton, Hants, where a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, as well as other medical procedures, were carried out under general anaesthetic.
A specialist who treated the child told Southampton Crown Court that it had suffered ‘significant harm’ during the few months last year when it was being treated, but added that it was unlikely the baby would suffer long-term harm.
Tests taken in September then revealed that the constipation medication Lactulose was present at a concentration 100 times higher than would be expected naturally.
Once the woman was denied access to the baby, its condition was said to have improved.
WhatsApp messages also revealed that the woman had purchased the laxative on several occasions, and further evidence found that she had searched online to see if the drug would be revealed in stool tests.
The female NHS worker, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years when she appeared at Southampton Crown Court
The employee of the Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust initially denied involvement, but later confessed in a written letter, saying she was ‘worried about going home’.
The Crown Prosecution Service said that medical records showed the woman was a hypochondriac – a person who fears they are suffering from an undiagnosed condition – and that she often sought attention.
Though it was accepted that she had not intended to cause lasting damage, it was also accepted that the woman had intended to extend the infant’s stay in hospital, by prolonging its symptoms.
After pleading guilty to having given the baby a laxative over a three-month period with the intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy she was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, and must also complete 150 hours of unpaid work.