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Can NHS enforce Strep B Prophylactic Antibiotic Treatment on child?

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I recently gave birth, My membranes ruptured, I was in hospital in labour and the NHS wanted to give me IV antibiotics 24hrs later just in case I had Step B infection which may be passed to baby. There were no signs this infection was present but I understand it can exist without symptoms. I did not want these and refused. I was spoken to by a paediatric registrar who explained fully the risks so that I could make a "fully informed decision". Now fully informed, I decided I did not want to receive the antibiotics for what I consider valid medical reasons which I won't detail here. Thought this was the end but then a second paediatric registrar arrived at my bedside to threaten me with the fact that if I did not receive the antibiotics then after my baby was born they would obtain an emergency child protection order if necessary to ensure that my baby received antibiotics directly through a canula in the back of it's hand along with blood taken for testing.

There was no sign of infection this was purely hospital policy to administer prophylactic antibiotics, I had not received these with a previous pregnancy where membranes had ruptured and I was given 48hrs with no antibiotics.

I was put under extreme pressure whilst I was labour and frankly felt bullied by the 2nd registrar who told me that I had a right to decide whether to receive antibiotics whilst the baby was in utero but once the baby was born I did not have the right to decide, she advised that they had a duty of care to the child and they would go through "their channels" to ensure that it received antibiotics directly along with bloods taken.

I feel like I did not have a choice and was forced into accepting the antibiotics because of course I would not want my child to be put through these procedures if I could prevent it and receive the treatment directly myself.


I am very keen to know if anyone can advise me if a child protection order (CPO) could be obtained for such circumstances? I can very much imagine that they can if I refuse treatment for a child who is sick and needing treatment as they have a duty of care to that child. Can they really get a CPO to administer antibiotics 'just in case' a child may have an infection although there are no signs or symptoms?

Any advice will be gratefully received as I feel very angry about the way I was treated over a period of 7hrs whilst in labour and would like to complain to the hospital.

Thanks for reading.

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A court order can be granted to enable preventative treatment. Article 6.2 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child stipulates the state's responsibility to preserve both survival and development of a child. It is not common for treatment to be ordered by a court where it is not proven to be necessery but it can happen and does happen - there have been cases where an order has been granted for vaccinations for example, as a preventative measure.


If it is a matter of life and death there and then, and there is no time to secure a court order, Dr's are allowed to perform the treatment and seek clarification later.


It seems that you were placed under a lot of pressure though simply so the hospital could implement a policy rather than what was in the best interest of the child. Have you contacted PALS at all? They can be very helpful

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Thanks very much for your reply ErikaPNP, it's very helpful.

One would presume that where court orders have been granted for preventative treatment it is because a childs survival or development was at high risk if treatment was not received. This was not the case in my situation, in fact one could argue that there was an extremely low risk given the statistics relating to the number of newborns infected and who go on to develop complications or worse. And indeed the Group B Strep Support Organisation advise that a mother at increased risk like myself should be 'offered' antibiotics rather than 'strongly advised' to have antibiotics like those mothers at high risk http://www.gbss.org.uk/filepool/2007_10_GBS_and_PregA5.pdf

I was not even strongly advised, I was forced and it was a copy of this leaflet from the link above which the hospital gave me at the time for information so presumably they agree with the information offered in this leaflet.


I see there are no local offices for PALS in Scotland which is where I live, do they only support patients in England do you know or is there a Scottish equivalent service that you're aware of?

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