First step in reducing risk for pregnant women
Published 26/11/2012 | 05:00
IRELAND'S status as one of the safest places in the world in which to give birth has long been put forward as a reason why no new legislation is needed to protect the life of the mother.
However, as the first comprehensive review of maternal deaths in 25 years shows, Ireland's record is not quite as high as previously believed.
There is no room for complacency. The method of counting maternal deaths was flawed and too limited.
The report of MDE Ireland, which will now track maternal deaths from all sources, not just death certificates, every three years is to be welcomed. It does not tarnish Ireland's reputation as a safe place for childbirth, but it does show the rate is twice as high as previously reported. The main aim is to highlight the circumstances surrounding the death of each woman in order for doctors and midwives to examine what went wrong and work on minimising or eliminating the risk in future.
This more comprehensive method of counting deaths has been in place in the UK for many years and has been credited with improving maternity care.
It is heartening that the work of MDE Ireland is supported by doctors involved in the care of pregnant women.
One of the benefits has been finding patterns and one of these is the significant number of women who suffered fatal blood clots.
This is a clear signal that hospitals need to ensure that prevention and management of the risks of this happening are stepped up.
With maternity services now at something of a crossroads, with actions to enforce the ruling in the X Case due, this report could not have come at a better time.