Sunday 20 August 2017

Families wait on ruling into deaths of two children under doctor's care

Dr Salah Aziz: ‘I look forward to my name being cleared’ Picture: Collins
Dr Salah Aziz: ‘I look forward to my name being cleared’ Picture: Collins

Liz Farsaci

An initial ruling in a long-running inquiry into a doctor who provided care to three mothers - including two whose babies died - was yesterday delayed.

Consultant obstetrician Dr Salah Aziz Ahmed, who worked at Cavan General Hospital for a number of years, is the subject of the hearing, which has sat for 22 days since November 2016.

Dr Aziz faces allegations in relation to the care he provided to three birthing women between 2012 and 2014: a mother referred to as Patient A, patient Deirdre Clarke - who waived her right to anonymity - and Patient C.

On foot of these factual claims, he faces allegations of poor professional performance and professional misconduct.

Patient A's and Patient C's baby boys died, while Ms Clarke's baby boy was born in a critical condition.

It was indicated at the start of yesterday's sitting, held at the Medical Council in Dublin, that any factual findings in relation to the allegations would be announced by the afternoon.

But cross-examination of Dr Nóirín Russell, as well as closing submissions by Lorna Lynch, BL, for the CEO of the Medical Council, and Eileen Barrington, SC, for Dr Aziz, meant any findings were delayed.

Any factual findings are now due to be announced on Thursday, and any findings in relation to poor professional performance and/or professional misconduct are expected on May 30.

Yesterday, consultant obstetrician Dr Russell, expert witness for Dr Aziz, gave evidence in relation to Patient C.

Patient C's baby boy was delivered stillborn after an emergency caesarean section on April 26, 2014.

During surgery, it was found Patient C had suffered from her third placental abruption, a condition in which the placenta separates from the uterus, depriving the baby of blood and oxygen.

But Dr Russell, from Cork University Maternity Hospital, said a diagnosis of placental abruption for Patient C is clear only in hindsight.

"It's very clear retrospectively this was placental abruption, but it wasn't clear at the time," Dr Russell said.

She said she wasn't sure whether an earlier delivery of Patient C's baby would have made a difference.

The inquiry previously heard that Patient A's baby boy was born by emergency caesarean section on November 22, 2012, but he died when he was 32 hours old. A coroner's court later found the infant suffered extensive meconium aspiration as a result of hypoxic brain injury.

Ms Clarke's baby boy was born in very poor condition on June 5, 2013, after her uterus ruptured. The paediatric team resuscitated him, and he made an eventual recovery.

On March 22, Patient C told the inquiry that on April 26, 2014, she attended Cavan Hospital, arriving at 12.40pm.

At 4.45pm, she met with Dr Aziz and told him about her poor obstetric history. He said he would return at 7pm to perform a caesarean section.

But shortly after 6pm "all hell broke loose", said Patient C, after a midwife could not find the baby's heartbeat. Patient C was rushed to theatre and given a general anaesthetic.

"When I woke up, I knew something terrible had happened because [the nurse] was crying," she said.

The inquiry resumes on Thursday.

Irish Independent

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