Maternity unit payouts on the rise for the fourth year in a row
The number of compensation payouts arising out of adverse incidents in maternity services has risen significantly in recent years, new figures show.
The volume of payouts rose from 214 in 2010 to 324 last year, according to figures supplied to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children.
The cost of the claims, which have not been revealed, include payouts for injury and death which happened several years ago.
There were also high payouts for surgical errors as well as for general medicine.
The State Claims Agency paid out €121.2m in compensation and costs for all health-related claims in 2013, up from €87.7m in 2012. Areas of recurring concern involving mothers in maternity units include wrongful death, complications in Caesarean sections and episiotomies, pre-eclampsia and fissures.
In the area of babies some of the main areas of concern include wrongful death, cerebral palsy and brain injuries and injury caused by forceps delivery.
Contributory factors and root causes can involve error by a doctor or nurse, failure to monitor, delay in recognising a complication and failure to act on time.
There can also be problems with competence or skills knowledge and misdiagnosis as well as failure to perform tests.
A new maternity strategy is promised at the end of this year. The Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said it also intends to start monitoring all 19 maternity units across the country .
It follows the highly-critical Hiqa report into care standards at Portlaoise Hospital including its maternity unit where five babies died since 2006.
Senior executives in the Health Service Executive (HSE) are to appear before the Oireachtas health committee next week to give a detailed response to the report.
It takes issue with several of the criticisms while accepting the recommendations of the report. Two families who lost babies in Portlaoise are also to appear before the committee.